Friday, 22 April 2011

A protest from the park (reposted)

During the week people have been handing out fliers outside the university about a protest against TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Co. who run the nuclear plant in Fukushima) and the use of nuclear power that was scheduled for today.  The protests started at Hosei university in Ichigaya (perhaps with an agenda aside from nuclear energy), and moved to  Hibiya Park. I don't really go protests that are ANTI... being  FOR  something seems a lot more constructive .... nonetheless I went in to have a look.  

Part of the reason I wanted to take a look was because there has been rumblings that Japanese media and NHK in particular are censoring the protests, not including them in news reports.  I wanted to see for myself what the situation was. 

Being  overly bourgeois, or just a product of the 1990s university system where there didn't seem a whole lot to be protesting about, my only experience of large scale student protests was in Xuzhou, China in 1999 when  the US  bombed the Chinese embassy in Serbia (Yugoslavia) (and was grounded by the university there as a result.....)   In Xuzhou the protests were orderly and on a phenomenal scale - tens of thousands of students marched - genuinely outraged by the bombing, but the protests were sanctioned by the government. 

Today was a rag tag bunch of students carrying professionally made anti nuke banners.  There were a few signs that identified where students were from - Tohoku University, Hiroshima, Okayama.... in total there would not have been many more than 100 protesters.  The police outnumbered protesters by 4:1 and over all perhaps as much as 8:1.

Tulips in Hibiya Park
Setting out from Hibiya Park

Lots of people in suits seem to be taking an interest.... hmmm

Police buses, the police - with the yellow and white stripes
greatly outnumbered protesters.

More police buses

Police standing by as the protesters pass by - more police
here than there were protesters.

Spot the protester...
The extent of police presence troubles me.... the uyoku (right wingers)  are permitted to drive around in black vans being intolerant - particularly of Russia and China. So long as they don't park outside the target embassies to spout their bile on megaphones, they are permitted to  go along as they like, it seems, this is a democratic country with free speech after all....  The level of police presence today seems very intimadatory not to mention unnecessary - if there is such a surplus - why aren't they doing shifts on the Sanriku....

From what I can see though, despite the situation in Fukushima, I suspect most people in Tokyo would opt for nuclear power over no aircon.... I am not quite sure why public interest is so low.


  1. Very interesting and not so much surprising after all that the police outnumbered the protesters. I have myself been approached by an official of Sophia University when I talked to one of the protesters: I had been warned that the zengakuren was violent and communist; explaining why these kinds of groups were forbidden on Campus.

    Sadly, I could not take a glimpse myself, but I will keep an eye on it.

  2. Thanks for the interesting report. I am amazed (or rather, appalled) that such overwhelming police presence can be justified. They must have very little else to do, or too much money to spend, or both...