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Friday, October 04, 2013

Evening Anti-Nuke Protests in Tokyo


The fierce student riots that filled Japan in the late 1960s and early 1970s, leading to armed stand-offs with the police, have fallen as completely silent in Japan as they have in most Western countries.

Antinuke power protest in Nagatacho, Tokyo.

However, protest is still alive and well in Japan, even if in much tamer forms. The most conspicuous protests encountered now in Japan are anti-nuclear, especially in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster triggered by the Great East Japan earthquake.

Many evenings you can see demonstrations of dozens of people, most of them older than younger, in the Nagatacho district of Tokyo which forms the political heart of the city, not far from, or flanking, Hibiya Park.

There is usually an exaggeratedly large police presence considering the number of people present, the average age of the protesters, and the decidedly pacific, however earnest, mood of the protest.

I often cycle past the area on my way home from work every evening, and took this recent picture of one such protest.

Opposition to the use of nuclear power in Japan has come to segue with opposition to nuclear weapons which has been a constant theme in Japanese life since the atomic bombing of Japan in World War Two. Anti-nuclear power rallies have drawn tens of thousands of participants since the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, among them very prominent Japanese figures such as the novelists Kenzaburo Oe and Haruki Murakami, a former assistant professor in nuclear chemistry and author of bestselling books opposing nuclear power Jinzaburo Takagi, and former prime minister Naoto Kan.

Between the occasional large-scale opposition rallies, these evening vigils look seem set to continue.

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