There was a biggish anti-nuclear protest in Tokyo on Sunday. The government of Shinzo Abe has stated its determination to restart and exapand on the nuclear generation of electricity and around 7,ooo people took to the streets to protest this. Though the Japan Times quoted organisers saying 60,000 people attended this seems way too many. Even the police estimate of 20,000 to 30,000 still seems high compared to my own rough calculation at the site. The police are not known for talking-up the numbers of protesters though; indeed usually they do the opposite so I wonder what the real number was.
Some might say that it is foolish to hope the country will be nuclear free in the future,;Japan has no choice but to use nuclear energy when it consumes electricity at the level it does with no significant natural resources of its own to support it.
True these protests are not of the same scale they were at their height in 2012. But a lot of people still do care that government and industry collusion and corruption created the problems that Fukushima Prefecture and Japan has been dealing with since the earthquake and tsunami of March 11th 2011.
One man, who many people credit for having saved the country shortly after those events took place is Naoto Kan. When the situation at the damaged Daichi plant was at its worst and TEPCO were apparently preparing to abandon it, he is supposed to have forced them to go in and manage the shut down. Rumour has it that he did this quite forcefully. So forcefully in fact that it appears as soon as was possible the powers in the political system and the vested interests in the power industry got rid of him pretty quickly afterwards.
So even he wasn’t exactly among friends when he turned up later in the day at the protest to speak, he could find some sympathy and gratitude in the crowd of protesters that surrounded the National Diet building.
Still as a politician, despite having nailed his green credentials to the mast most of his political career, it was a brave thing to do. His security was quite light and he was right there in the middle of an angry, motivated crowd that have a visceral distrust, even dislike, of most politicians.
I think history will be kind to Naoto Kan though.
A good day shooting.
More images of Naoto Kan speaking at the anti-nuclear demo at my archive here.
The rather strange looking building in the background of this image is the Prime Minister of Japan‘s official residence known as the Kantei. Shortly after taking this image and waiting around for others where the suited office workers crossed a frame that included the full apex of the roof of Prime Minister Noda’s house (a mistake I put down to the cold), I was questioned by four(ish) policemen as to what exactly I thought I was doing.
Actually is was slightly less aggressive than I make it sound due to the fact that the police first followed me down the road a while talking into radios and trying to look like they were not following me down the street. I (and they) was also being shadowed by several secret service personnel, also talking into radios, who had earlier positioned themselves strategically along the road. Only when everyone was in place did two officers run up to stand in front and behind me and stop me moving. Other uniformed men stood further up and down the street, next to the secret service to block any escape.
It was fun to watch this all happen, fun to see the necessary security operation swing into action for me and my little camera even though the place is visible from the road and the almost en suite metro station they still didn’t like that I had lingered. Tried to explain about stock imagery and the need to get some foreground interest, showed them the pics I had taken which due to the grey day and the slight intimidation had felt taking them (I knew I was probably going to get stopped) were not that impressively great. Anyway a fun day out and certainly a bit more polite than I would probably have been treated in the UK even if it was all a bit hyperbolic and least the cops could get a bit of a adrenaline in their day.
Busy with image request related to the Tohoku tsunami and earthquake at the moment, going to get busier to I think as the first anniversary of March 11th comes round.