Six months after Fukushima
Revolt of the Amateurs
Six months after the accident in the Fukushima nuclear power plant rises in Japan a new protest movement.
But structurally it is still in its infancy.
BERLIN taz | Something did not live to Japan for decades. First it was only a few thousand. Incredulous, they were watched by passers-by. But now already tens of thousands take to the streets, holding signs with the slogan "Genpatsu Iranai!" ("Nuclear power? No thanks!") High, accompanied by floats, where bands play or speeches, surrounded by police.
All levels of society are represented: from housewife to punk, from the CEO to the ordinary employees. Some wear suits, gas masks and white protective suits. Teachers, students, shop and restaurant owners, musicians, artists, scientists, parents, children and seniors.They all run as a community with the same goal: the immediate abolition of all nuclear power plants.
In Fukushima nuclear plant it had come on 11 March after a devastating earthquake and a tsunami meltdown. Since then, the protest movement has gained in Japan to feed. In the largest ever trial on June 11, more than 20,000 participants came together in Tokyo in front of the Shinjuku train station. On the same day protesting people in more than 200 towns and villages as well as numerous universities throughout Japan.
The next big demonstration is planned for September 11 in Tokyo.This time will be combined nationwide actions and mobilize a total of more than a million people. In addition, there will be another big event on September 19, at the large NGOs such as Greenpeace Japan or the Citizen's Nuclear Information Center (CNIC) will be represented. It is expected more than 50,000 people. That would be a new record.
"Fukushima was clearly the sticking point for the movement," said the Leipziger Japanese Studies student Julia readers that the documentary along with their fellow student Clarissa Seidel in Tokyo "Radio Activists - Protest in Japan since Fukushima" turned. "Since the interest and participation has grown exponentially."
15,000 people took to the streets
No one had expected this success. The organizers of the demonstration on April 10 in Tokyo's Koenji district estimated the number of participants at registration to almost 500. But then poured 15,000 people in the Koenji Park, where the protest procession began. "Normally, no more than 500 came It was unthinkable that the park could be too small. But on April 10 the people stood far above the park beyond," the sociologist Yoshitaka Môri recalls in the documentary. "That was unprecedented."
If 250,000 people go protest in Germany, this is perceived as self-evident. In Japan, more than 10,000 demonstrators caused a sensation. The last great demos there had been in the 1960s. Since protest is associated with political ideologies and violence. "Many have a demo allergy," says Môri. "Even politically engaged people are reluctant to participate in political actions."
The popular support now starts to grow. In a recent survey conducted by the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun 70 percent of respondents favored the abolition of nuclear power plants in Japan.That may be a snapshot, but it shows that many begin to think differently. "The awareness of the people has changed," says Shiori Matsumuro, a representative of the Japanese Student Association Zengakuren. "More and more Japanese people that it is okay to publicly point out the contradictions in society."
The three million-strong student movement has its origins in the student protests of the 1960s and can point to a long history of protests. She organized the first anti-nuclear demonstration to Fukushima on March 17 in Shibuya Tokyo, attended by several thousand people and was passing directly at the TEPCO headquarters. This was followed by numerous other demos.
Students who demonstrate, have a hard
In addition, a petition for the abolition of all nuclear power plants has been started on all Japanese universities. But it will not make the students easily. "At universities, political commitment is frowned upon and the establishment of anti-nuclear circles is disabled again. Anyone who takes part in demonstrations, it has often difficult to get a place at university or Chair", Matsumuro describes the situation of students and faculty.
For many it is not just about the nuclear issue. You want to draw attention to social problems in Japan. "The fundamental problem is the structure of Japanese society, thereby Fukushima in the first place was possible," says the sociologist Môri. "Therefore, it is also about the problem of part-time workers, known as Freeter, whose number increases dramatically since the 1990s and many of whom work in the nuclear power plants."
Many Japanese companies use part-time jobs for temporary workers. They can be trained, but not trained and poorly paid. They are usually employs over Contractors, forced to work under poor conditions and usually get no support from the unions.
Freeter also form the largest group of new protest movement. The currently largest and most successful demonstrations organized by a group called "Shiroto no Ran", the "Revolt of the Amateurs". It receives the most media attention and popular support.
It is not a conventional political organization, but rather a group of friends who operate in the Tokyo district of Koenji together second-hand and recycle shops, cafés and bars. Under the direction of Hajime Matsumoto organizing since 2004 on various topics demos and sit down for a particular more freedom in public space, the reputation of the Freeter and more grassroots agency.
"We are demonstrating against a standards-dominated Japan, in which one can do nothing more than spend money. We demand space for alternatives," says Matsumoto. "I am convinced that Japan is changing. Many begin to think that one should not only rebuild the areas affected by the natural disaster areas, but Japan as a whole."
Increasing police presence
An obstacle to greater participation is primarily the growing police presence at the protest actions are. "The demos run peacefully and colorful from. But the police are very present," says the student reader their impressions of the protests. "The police do not seem to be used that Japanese are increasingly politically active and express their opinion on the street."
"They control us too much," Keisuke Narita describes the actions of the police. He is one of the initiators of Koenji. "They divide us into small groups and try to shield from the car, where the bands play to disrupt the festival atmosphere. In addition, it always comes back to unjustified arrests.
During our demo on May 7 in Shibuya four participants were removed for no reason. In Japan, the police can detain someone up to 23 days without charge. That is one reason why many people are reluctant to participate in demos, even if they were peaceful. "
At the fourth demo Shiroto-no-Ran on August 6 also much less people participated. This may have been due to the traditional holiday month. But Ginza, the most exclusive shopping district of Tokyo, did not want to just go with a protest. In a letter to the organizers of the residents stated that they wanted no demos in Ginza, as this "harass the customers". Again, the participants were divided into small groups by the police and also captured on video.
Combine anti-nuclear weapons and anti-nuclear movement
The new movement also puts structurally still in its infancy. Although Japan has a long history of the peace movement, which prevents annually in Hiroshima and Nagasaki Demos and used primarily for the abolition of nuclear weapons. However, this movement is a strong proponent of peaceful nuclear use '.
Your goals are so diametrically opposed to those of the anti-nuclear opponents. "We must overcome the current separation of the anti-nuclear weapons and the anti-nuclear movement and create a movement that advocates both goals," says the student Matsumuro.
So far, the protest was organized mainly locally and consisted mostly of individual projects in directly affected areas. In Kaminoseki example, the residents fight for years against the construction of nuclear power plants by blocking the access roads with fishing boats and organize demos.
But since March 11 nuclear power plants have become a national problem. Local groups and national NGOs are now trying to better cooperation and networking. The Japanese Student Association Zengakuren organized for this reason, on August 5, a "National Conference for immediate shutdown of all nuclear power plants" (Nazen).
In addition, an international anti-nuclear and anti-unemployment-action is scheduled for November 6, 2011. Matsumuro was also representing the Zengakuren recently in Germany, to learn about the local anti-nuclear movement. For a mobilization as it is possible in Germany, the young student wishes for Japan. She hopes for international support. "The anti-nuclear movement has the potential to unite people regardless of age, profession or nation. I understand that during my visit to Gorleben."
Help of punk bands
But the young protesters do not want to just talk and demonstrate - but also do something. The Human Recovery Project, for example, a merger of Tokyo punk bands. You play one hand on the demos, but also go at least once a week in the areas affected by the natural disaster areas, to extend relief supplies with her band wagon and help with cleanup.
Even on the body search, they have been involved. On May 5, they also organized in the tsunami-devastated town of Minami Sanriku-Shizukawa with children of primary school their second craft workshop.
The media ignored the protests for a long time. Slowly they begin to show interest in the new protest movement. The policy responds to the movement, such as the nuclear phase-out plans for the now retired Prime Minister Kan showed.
Even ultranationalist groups are jumping on the anti-nuclear train.
Amazed it was discovered at the headquarters of TEPCO, now that rant the mold of black Vans of the ultra-right with their speaker systems from which usually sound right slogans against the nuclear group.
Interestingly, they are treated very kindly by the police and security personnel.
This results in the driveway of the site, a cat-and-mouse game, the unwanted associations with old cartoons triggers: Again and again go before the rights and turn circles in front of the building, followed by a group of policemen. They curve around the neighborhood and abuse Tepco and the government to cover up the radiation danger and call for a nuclear-free Japan. But that appear to be isolated cases.
Many nationalist groups such as the Zaitokukai that "citizens against the special privileges of the zainichi (Korean minority in Japan)" see, in the anti-nuclear movement and provoke an enemy with slogans such as "Do not quench the fire of nuclear power plants!"
The first anniversary of the devastating earthquake and thus also of the nuclear accident in Fukushima is fast approaching and still is the Japanese protest movement on the rise. The coming months will show how it will evolve. Demos are but accepted by more and more people.
Also the attitude towards nuclear energy appears to be changing. In particular, due to the long duration of the Fukushima problem and the past behavior of those responsible for the discussion about the nuclear issue will be continued long in Japanese society. This can be a good breeding ground for the new protest culture in Japan.