Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Electricity and politics - Summer 2012 (4)

Much more than last year,  this year is being characterised by systematically organised protests. 
Last week and the week before I went to the protests at Kokkai Gijidou Mae - outside the Prime Minister's official residence. I was there more to see what was happening rather than to protest. I can't say I'm unequivocally in the anti nuclear camp, though obviously the current situation in Fukushima is completely  unacceptable.

Anti nuclear power protests have a long history in Japan, particularly with the legacy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Government efforts to subdue the protests has an equally long history.  (see this article by Daniel Aldrich for an insight into the way the government has operated to get nuclear established.)  In some ways the protests are about much more than nuclear, they seem to be about democratic fundamentals.  Having said that though, I am not sure how widespread the sentiments are; I have heard few reports of protests in other areas.  It will be interesting to see the next election.

Our destination was the corner diagonally opposite.
But crossing the road was banned. It was 4pm, the  protests were
at 6 pm.  I was there with 2 friends who were visiting, and two
of their Japanese friends.  To reach our destination we had to walk
the four sides of the Diet building - more than 1km I guess.
The same people being turned away.  We were on the same side
of the road as the PM house, about 70 m. from where we were.
Plenty of police - who were all very polite, but the numbers
are intimidating.
We were at the corner diagonally opposite the police when we were told to go back.
Protestors were told strictly by organizers that any speeches must only relate
to the anti nuclear agenda.  A key strategy of successful protesting
 - keeping a clear target.
This guy holding a post that I can't explain and neither could the people
near me whom I asked. He was bending the rules by shuffling back and forth in
the pedestrian corridor.  The police tolerated him for a while, but then asked him to
step inside the protesters area. It took the summoning of an obviously older and
more senior police officer to persuade him.
I have yet to see anyone actively defy the police.
Inside Kokkai gijidou mae station - not enough room to get out.
Protestors "we don't need nuclear power"
The Diet building in the background with police and baricades between it
and the people.... symbolic really when you consider that there has been
negligible attention been paid by politicians.
Protests of 27th - the road by the PM's residence (on the other side)
is blocked to traffic.
Graffiti on a post box - "Fuck Nuclear Power".  Intersetingly written on
what looks like a beginners English name tage.
The Post box
I met up with a friend and fellow blogger
Rurousha to go on the 27th July 2012 protests. We met in
Hibiya Park, which is often a site for protests, though the size is too small
to have large rallies.
A marshalling point for participants?  Just near the Ministry of Industry  (METI) building,
between Hibiya Park and the Diet, a group of protestsers had set up shop.
Protests outside METI.

Police keep protestors on a very light leash. Protesters can't move
out of the "protesters area". One side of the foot path is shut off
to enable people to walk along the footpath, but since there is almost
no pedestrian traffic, it serves a double bonus purpose as
preventing protesters from congregating in a more condensed area.

For Rurousha's account with an African perspective, see


Rurousha said...

Your photos make it clear that the first protest was much bigger. (That iPad takes great photos, by the way!)

The next election will be very interesting. Recently much has been made in the media of anti-nuclear Iida Tetsunari's defeat in Yamaguchi (a bit earlier another anti-nuclear candidate lost in Kagoshima), but I'm not convinced this means anything. Both candidates were inexperienced compared to their opponents, and I don't know if voters would want to focus exclusively on nuclear power plants while so much else needs attention. We'll see.

I enjoyed our southern insurgency enough to volunteer for the next one! :)

Cecilia said...

It was bigger... tonight one of my profs from Sophia posted a video of tonight's protest - more drums and it seemed that people were able to walk. I've just asked him about it but haven't heard back yet.

Yamaguchi I think there were other factors - that the anti nuke guy was a single issue campaigner. The article by Daniel Aldrich that I linked to in this post is a really interesting read.

I'd like to go back and see it again to see if and how the dynamics change. Lekkerly interesting. Arigatou!