Saturday, June 16, 2012

New York Times Reports on June 16 Protests in Japan Against Ooi Nuke Plant Restart, Not a Word About June 15

New York Times, regarded as "newspaper of record", joins the Japanese colleagues in reporting only the June 16 demonstration in front of the Prime Minister's Official Residence in Tokyo. Not a word about the June 15 protest.

To further diffuse the issue, New York Times mentions thousands of protesters "in Tokyo and elsewhere" on Saturday (June 16).

On Friday June 15, 11,000 people gathered in front of the Prime Minister's Official Residence in Tokyo, alone.

The writer, Martin Fackler, is the Tokyo bureau chief of New York Times.

From New York Times (6/16/2012; emphasis is mine):

Japan’s Prime Minister Orders Restart of Two Nuclear Reactors

Published: June 16, 2012

TOKYO — Brushing aside widespread public opposition to avoid feared electric power shortages, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda ordered the reactivation of two nuclear reactors at a plant in western Japan on Saturday, making it the nation’s first plant to go back online since the crisis last year in Fukushima.

The decision to restart the Ohi nuclear plant ends the temporary freeze of Japan’s nuclear power industry, when all 50 of the country’s functional reactors were idled after the triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. Despite the prime minister’s vows to strengthen the Ohi plant against the same sort of huge earthquake and tsunami that knocked out the Fukushima plant in March 2011, the Japanese people have remained deeply divided on the safety of nuclear power.

Even after the prime minister made a rare appeal on June 8 on national television, opinion polls showed that more Japanese opposed restarting the Ohi plant than supported it. Mr. Noda urged the nation to return to nuclear power to avoid electricity shortages that could cause blackouts and cripple industry at a time of rising competition with China and the rest of Asia. Instead, he has supported a slow phasing out of nuclear plants over several decades, as energy alternatives are found.

Saturday’s decision was seen here as a victory for the still-powerful nuclear industry and its backers in the business world, whose political support has been crucial to the otherwise unpopular Mr. Noda. It remains to be seen how the broader public will react to the restart order. Many Japanese already believe that Mr. Noda has rushed to proclaim the Ohi plant safe despite the fact that a new earthquake-resistant control center and other safety measures at the plant are years from completion.

According to polls, two-thirds of Japanese express deep concern about the safety of nuclear plants after last year’s accident, which contaminated food with radiation and shattered the myth of Japan’s infallible nuclear technology. The day before Mr. Noda gave the order, his government was visited by an antinuclear group led by the Nobel laureate Kenzaburo Oe, which presented what it said were the signatures of 7.5 million people calling for the abolition of nuclear power.

On Saturday, thousands of protesters turned out in the rain in Tokyo and elsewhere with placards criticizing the prime minister’s assertion that the Ohi plant was safe.

(Full article at the link)

Reuters, whose English article on the Ooi restart mentioned 10,000 people protesting on Friday (June 15), is totally quiet about any protest, June 15 or 16, in the Japanese article. The Japanese article is not the translation of the English article, and it was written by different reporters.


Anonymous said...

The demonstrations are very important to remind Noda of the anger and frustration of the people. I hope we can keep doing them every Friday until Japan officially renounces nuclear power.

It would be nice to have the media attention, but it is more important to let Noda know that we are watching his actions and that we disapprove.

It is also important to give people a place to go where they can vent their anger at Noda.

It is also a recruiting place - where people who don't yet know how to get involved in acting against nuclear power can meet other people and get connected to the movement.

We need the Friday demonstrations, even if there is no media there.

However, if we also want media attention, the 11,000 will need to do something more newsworthy. We'll need to get creative. Some ideas:

- Flash mob the DPJ headquarters office someday at lunch hour.

- Is Noda's mother still alive? Maybe the mothers among the 11,000 could visit her and bring photos of their children to show Noda's mother. All visit at the same time of course, but each explains their concerns for their children one by one, and ask Noda's mother to speak to her son about his behavior. (Some of you might be thinking that his mother should be off limits, but Noda's policies are killing Japan's children - in such a case, getting to Noda through his mother is fair game). When she stops seeing people, each mother should at least leave a short note asking for her intervention on behalf of Japan's children.

- Is Noda's mother dead? Maybe the mothers among the 11,000 could visit Noda's mother's memorial and show the children's photos to the memorial?

- File 11,000 small claims court cases against TEPCO for emotional/mental stress-related damages caused by their misinformation campaign after the nuclear releases.

- Take to 11,000 cars and drive around Nagatacho. By simple volume, create a permanent gridlock in Nagatacho. Start on a Monday; see how many days it takes for the government to figure out a solution. Oh, and use your car horns when necessary for safety.

- Better yet, bring those 11,000 cars to Fukui and protest on the one small road that leads to the nuclear plant. And be sure to bring vehicles that are not in need of repair. Would be terrible if one or two of the cars broke down on that road and needed towed. Worse yet if a hundred faulty cars broke down and needed towed. Might take several days to clear away so many.

- Demonstrate at the imperial palace to demand an audience with the emperor. The emperor needs to get more involved. He needs to speak out. The emperor understands the historical context of what "Japanese" means. Noda, the DPJ and the business interests get "Japan" confused with "Japan Inc." The emperor needs to join the fight against nuclear power in order to preserve the essence of Japan culture and society. Japan has endured for thousands of years without nuclear power, but the TEPCO disaster makes it clear that Japan cannot live WITH nuclear power.

Give it some thought. Stay legal. Civil disobedience gets more attention when it is creative and new. It gets more attention when it overwhelms infrastructure beyond the infrastructure's design.

While 11,000 people on a sidewalk across the street from the PM's residence shouting at him every Friday evening is very unusual for Japan, it has a hard time competing for media attention with other news stories.

We need to keep demonstrating on Friday evenings - these gatherings serve a vital purpose - but we might also need to add some more creative actions if we want to keep the media engaged.

Beppe said...

Anonymous@2:51 Brilliant contribution, better than using buses! If we choose to drive in Nagatacho or Ginza or Aoyama let's not think green for a change: drive there alone or with a friend; if you are four people using two cars will be more comfortable.
As to Friday evenings, I keep thinking that doing the same in Omotesando or Ginza or Marunouchi would be a better in terms of both recruiting and visibility than Kantei, squeezed against the wall, nicely aligned for the police to take pictures.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

Anon 2:51 and Beppe, can I translate your suggestions for my Japanese blog readers?

Anonymous said...

laprimavera -

Are you kidding? I would be thrilled if you would translate and share everything I write. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Oh and feel free to edit as you see fit. We're all in this fight together. If you can improve on a discussion I start, please do.

Beppe said...

Primavera, sure, feel free to translate.
By the way, 7.5 million signatures is exactly 10 times what is required in Italy to request a referendum on a specific topic. Italians voted twice about nuclear energy and said a resounding NO both times. I suppose it helped a little that the first poll happened to be right after Chernobyl and the second right after Fukushima (both times by chance).

Beppe said...


Anonymous said...

You mean 750万

Beppe said...


Anonymous said...

laprimavera -

I'd like to ask that you share something else with your Japanese readers:

This is an essay that makes it clear that improved safety measures, a better regulatory board, or newer nuclear technologies are not sufficient resolutions to this problem. This essay makes it clear that the only acceptable resolution is society's abandonment of nuclear power. It's simply not an option that mankind can control. This essay might help the media better understand that we are not demonstrating because we are worried about safety precautions. I, at least, am demonstrating and writing because I believe that nuclear power cannot be made safe and is far too dangerous for mankind to be using as an energy source.

When do my protests end - either when I'm dead or when Japan abandons all nuclear power. I hope it is the same for your readers and for each of the 11,000 people who turned out in Tokyo on 15-JUN and the 4,000 people who turned out in Fukui.

The Friday demonstrations should not end until Japan renounces nuclear power and shuts down all its nuclear power plants.

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