Been a busy week of protests in Tokyo. The draconian State Secrets Bill has seen some energetic protesting. I will go into this in more detail later when I can use pictures and write more about the massive threat to Japanese democracy this stupid law entails.
In the meantime have a look at some images and an informed and informing write up by Rob Gilhooly here
Today’s protest genuinely seemed like a mix of all those against it. There were the Hokkaido farmers Union leading the march with red jackets and bandanas and artist and activist, Yohei Miyake bringing up the rear with musicians and dancing. many of the people seemed quite ordinary not too many activists or the usual left-wingers and right-wingers. Indeed a facebook group that hopes to educate people about the TPP and create debate had invited many right-wing, LDP voters to express their anger at Shinzo Abe and they marched quite happily alongside people that didn’t share the same politics at all.
Emboldened perhaps by the week long protests against the secrecy laws that could be used to hide the details of this globalising trade pact as well as the troubles at Fukushima Daichi and the re-militarisation of Japan it was demo of resigned passions allowing it to be quite lightly policed. It is still a subject about which I need to understand a lot more however.
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.
Yes I’m still here, just very busy so difficult to post as often as I would like.
The Friday night protests against nuclear power in Tokyo are still here and I go down to them occasionally to shoot some images and see how they are getting on.
It is quite amazing really to consider it is one year today since the anti-nuclear movement here set up camp outside the METI offices in Tokyo and began protesting regularly. Today they marked the anniversary of this camp with a small rally and dancing women from Fukushima apparently. I was invited along but due to other work could go, which was a shame, as I have been following the protests as often as I can even when they were threatened with eviction and seemed about to disappear . History in the making and all that. Amazing to see that they are still going strong, still attracting large numbers of people, though not the great numbers that greeted the restarts of the reactors in Oi.
I will continue to follow the story when possible, this is Japan’s Hydrangea Revolution and though it is still more or less ignored by the Japanese media the people involved are proof that the message is getting out there and striking a chord with people who would perhaps never had protested against anything before.
These are interesting days, even a year on the anger is still hot and the the problem promises to increase creating more and more angry people.
A situation to watch for sure.
Anyway an exhausting day and more of the same tomorrow, can’t write much more tonight will just share some images from last Friday’s smaller than average protest.
Anger (written on the glove) at the woman’s protest outside the METI offices in Tokyo. Other work kept me away from the big protest that followed unfortunately but made some good connections and interviews at the rally of angry woman that took place at 1pm in this long running protest I have written about before.
More to follow when I have time. Slightly annoyed to have missed the main event (the later protest attended by tens of thousands of people was very vocal in is protestations against the reactivation of the Oi powerplant in Fukui Prefecture) due to a paying job. Fukushima news barely sells now which is so very very wrong. But such is life as a freelance editorial photographer in Tokyo.
More images of the bit of the women’s anti nuclear protest I saw here.
Busy day, annoying really as I only found out that the Fukushima mothers protest outside the Ministry of the Economy Trade and Industry (METI); a sort of Occupy Tokyo movement was meant to be shut down today by the police last night. Yukio Edano, the newly appointed Minister of the economy, Trade and Industry, having listened to the lobbying of the nuclear industry had declared the site a fire risk and everyone had to be out by 5pm. I had an appointment at 6:30 so had to leave around 5 and thought I’d missed the eviction time. Wonderfully un-committed journalism I am aware, but had a feeling they wouldn’t go anyway and apparently the protest has defied the order to leave their camp outside the METI offices in Tokyo.
Now the ball is very much in Edano’s court I have a feeling that the public support this anti-nuclear protest has, though diminishing it is true, is not something a nominally popular politician will easily go against. This is a very developing story however and I will be following it throughtout the rest of the evening and weekend.
Indeed I am writing this on the hoof between other duties both professional and personal (bath time for the kids and all that) and will update later wheni have more time to find out what is and isn’t happening.
Just wanted to get a picture out of one of the protesters. More images of the attempted eviction of the anti nuclear protest outside the METI offices at my archive here:
Got to do some homework on the TPP situation as both the extreme right (above in a protest outside the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday) and the extreme left are against it. Not often they agree on much.