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Ordinary Japanese has started to express their anger on ‘Nuclear Yakuza’, as well as their wish for safer and nuke-free Japan.

May 21, 2011

Amid the unprecedented disaster of earthquake, tsunami and subsequent meltdown of crippled Nuclear Reactor at Fukushima, a social pressure of self-restraint was imposed to civil actions without exception, saying like “Be quiet till things are settled down. Everybody is mourning the dead and casualties in deep sorrow. We should collaborate with government and TEPCO first to solve the problem before criticizing each other”. As a matter of fact, such atmosphere is only favorable to the government officials, TEPCO, nuclear industry and the mainstream media and so on – namely ‘Nuclear Yakuza’ who has praised benefits and advantages of nuclear technology over the risk of it and thus turning out to be a genuine culprit for this obviously human-caused disaster. They, on the contrary, kept spreading the message that “This is so unimaginable that nothing better could have been done to avoid it”.

However, this time, Japanese public reputed to be patient decided to say something and moreover takes a solid action to resolve the root cause of the issue.

Anti-nuclear plant protest has been initiated since late March shortly after people got out of panic and try to restore their normal life. Starting was rather small-scaled and more from dedicated clans who has long raised the issue and anticipated the horrible development of the situation as today. They are group of scholars, retired engineers and those who have supported these brave dissidents. For example, CNIC (Citizens Nuclear Information Center, is a prominent group representing such stream. People mainly gathers in front of headquarter of TEPCO, Shimbashi, Tokyo which is also near from Kasumigaseki where Japanese Government buildings are clustered, including Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, known for its fiasco in controlling the situation.

The most promising aspect of these protests was evolution from senior citizens as majority of the group to younger generations over the times. Japanese activists and their organization which have the longest establishment among Asian countries, have long worried losing dynamics due to her aging pool, often complaining youngsters are two self-centered and weak. Young Japanese protesters who joined these events are explaining that they realized the issue is very much connected to their daily life and nothing will be changed without raising their voice.

Mainstream Japanese media has seldom reported these events whereas most of key European and US journalists in Tokyo never missed them. Some people believe that such attitude of Japanese media is resulted by pressure from their key stakeholders – again ‘Nuclear Yakuza’.

The followings are the video taken from protests at early phase.

March 27th, protest in front of TEPCO

April 3rd, protest in front of TEPCO and NISA

Recent involvement of anti-poverty activists group from Koenji, heartland of Tokyo subculture, shifted protest scene into a next phase. MATSUMOTO Hajime, one of star figure of the group has arranged the series of protests, which scaled up dramatically. They also transformed a solemn procession to be a festive parade.

Official Website of Organizer

The first protest held at the10th of April surprisingly gathers about 8K~15K of people in Koenji, Tokyo, mainly urged to come out via SNS and notices from their friends. It fairly embarrassed the Tokyo police who expected only a few hundred or even less. Many protesters who participated in such demonstration fist time in their life agreed that they felt proud of themselves in action and very much enjoyed the hilarious mood as well. As a matter of fact, this scale of protest has been very rarely found in Japan for last 20 ~30 years except Okinawa where organized resistance of locals continues over the presence of US military base. The protest was so peaceful and in a light mood that quite a bit of families including kids and babies in strollers were safely proceeding in a parade. Again, this event was not captured by media reason being that they didn’t expect the scale of event and the corresponding news value.

Some interesting videos about this event are as follows.

On the 7th of May, the 2nd protest was held in Shibuya, shining and bustling centre of Megacity, Tokyo, also where NHK headquarter is located. No chance of being missed from media’s attention. Another 15K people flocked amid rain, with more eye caching preparation. 6 groups has been arranged for different paths with differing styles of music band at the front, to guide the people, based on their taste of music.

This time, the Tokyo police was also ready to pay back but has gone too far. They intervened each group and intentionally diced it into smaller pieces so that people can’t follow the path smoothly and get dismissed hopelessly. Such tactics incurred bigger turmoil and even confliction between police and protesters. Consequently, 4 of them taken into custody and 2 of them put on trial. In due course, police’s assault to protesters and biased treatment has been argued.

Video clips –

And an official report from organizer

As said, Japanese activists have found fresh hope from their emerging younger successors.

This video clip of song by young idol star, FUJINAMI Kokoro, performed in the Shibuya event, being overlapped by the speech made by 87-year old activist, SAITO Michiko in Hibiya park, strikes people that the righteous belief succeeds from one generation to another.

More information about protest across Japan is available in web magazine ‘Magazine 9’


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