Friday, July 6, 2012

July 6 Protest in Tokyo: Organizers Say 150,000 Despite the Rain, 21,000 Says Police, Even Yomiuri Reports

The police this time says 21,000 people, up 4,000 from their last week's estimate of 17,000. Organizers say 150,000, about the same level as last week. Participants (or would-have-been participants) say many more were stopped at the subway station (Kokkaigijidomae) exit and couldn't get out.

(It looks like it was one particular exit, and others were open. They could have also ridden one more station and exit from there instead.)

And even more surprising, Yomiuri Online did cover the event (I think it is the first, online), and even quoted the police number. It even has a photograph! Tide is turning! This historical coverage must be preserved... (OK, sarcasm off.)

From Yomiuri Shinbun (7/7/2012):


Anti-nuke plant protest in front of PM Official Residence, protesting against the restart of Ooi


Citizens' groups demanding the halt of operation at KEPCO Ooi Nuclear Power Plant (in Fukui Prefecture) which restarted power generation on July 5 conducted the protest action in front of the Prime Minister's Official Residence in Nagata-cho, Chiyodaku in Tokyo.


According to the Metropolitan Police, the number of participants rose to about 21,000, and there was a 800 meter-long line in front of the Official Residence. People including young people who gathered there via Twitter and Facebook messages shouted "Saikado Hantai (we're against the restart)", waving signs like "Listen to us citizens".


A small group of participants started to march toward the PM Official Residence after 8PM, the time that the protest action was scheduled to end, and there was a minor scuffle between the group and the organizers and the police, who together tried to restrain the group.


A housewife (aged 35) from Ota-ku, Tokyo who came with her two sons (aged 8 and 3) said, "[I came because] I thought I had to clearly express my view against nuclear power plants, in order to protect children."

That small group who pushed to the front after the protest hours was one of the long-time established left groups, according to the participants who witnessed the scuffle. The group, who tried to make a scene, according to the witness account, was restrained by both the organizers and the police.

If you recall, this is the newspaper who allegedly said they wouldn't cover the protest because it was against the paper's policy and stance.

So now what?

What's interesting is that more and more senior politicians are showing up at the protest. Shizuka Kamei was one example. He is the ousted former head of the ruling coalition party People's New Party, or Kokumin Shinto. Though he was ousted in the party "coup" in March this year, he seems to carry weight as an "insider". Many people know him as a former police and security official with ties to nuclear industry, making his appearance puzzling or troubling for some.

It turns out that Kamei's elder sister died of leukemia, after suffering from the radiation exposure she received in Hiroshima City when the atomic bomb detonated. Kamei said in this interview that his sister, who was in high school at that time, repeatedly went back to the city center with her classmates to help people suffering the effect of the bomb.

To be anti-nuclear or anti-restart of nuke plants may be getting to be perceived by some politicians as a vote getter. Good sign, I think.


Anonymous said...

A caution to the Japanese police: It is EXTREMELY DANGEROUS to try to prevent these people from peaceful protest. By blocking the subway exits you have done just that. This kind of police action will ESCALATE the tension and more quickly RADICALIZE people in the group.

Imagine that next time a protester might bring a smoke bomb to the subway station to create the appearance of a fire (forcing the police to unblock the exit). Neither you or the leaders of these demonstrations want such a thing to happen, but when the DPJ denies these people a voice in their government, and then their POLICE deny them also the right to protest against it, then YOU are inciting violence.

You must let them on the street. Let them block the street if there are so many of them (traffic can wait). But you should NEVER try to prevent frustrated citizens and residents from joining a peaceful demonstration. Once you do that, CIVILITY DEGRADES and the situation can get VIOLENT.

And remember, ALL of the people shouting Saikadou Hantai are doing it not only for their families but for YOUR families as well. Your job may prevent you from joining with them on the side of the protest, but you know they are right and you know they are legitimately concerned about JAPAN's energy policy.

Until Japan renounces nuclear power and takes concrete steps accordingly, the protests will continue. They might continue to be peaceful. But actions like blocking subway exits will almost certainly lead some frustrated protesters to turn to VIOLENCE.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't look that way, anon. Police didn't block all exits, and people had other choices. Apparently it never occurred to some that they could go to the next station and walk a bit longer.

Are you inciting violence by capitalizing certain words?

Anonymous said...


Absolutely not. Capitalization is for emphasis.

It is important to keep these events peaceful. However, the police have very little / no experience handling large crowds of protesters. I suspect they do read these blog postings, and I am hopeful that the above will help keep these events peaceful as the weekly participation grows. But as the crowd does grow, it becomes more and more dangerous. It is important that the police leaders do not overreact or take actions that would set off the most frustrated of the protesters.

from ANON@3:52

Janick in Tokyo said...

I can witness there were NO access problems from other stations (Nagatacho, Kasumigaseki). Many of my friends were aware of the necessity to avoid the KOKKAIGIJIDOMAE, where there were problems last week because of the huge numbers of protesters. But you are right (Anonymous à 3:53 PM) when you say that it's extremely dangerous for the police to stop a crowd in a station. There was panic there (according to tweets I read), and violence may definitely arise from such a situation.
But generally speaking, the police have been very friendly in all the demonstrations me and my friends took part in (apart from a few problems at times, locally, true). Let's be cautious in our judgements.

Janick in Tokyo said...

I was refering to the Kokkaigijidomae STATION, sorry.
And also, I didn't mean "à" but "at/@", sorry for the languages' mix up !

Anonymous said...

I exited from Kokkaigijidomae at 6:10, it was not "blocked"; the police were only letting people use one exit though. A whole lot of people came down the street after me, though, so if it was blocked, it would have been by too many people and only one exit to use. Cops were clearly trying to limit the flow so they could keep people on the sidewalks and allow traffic to move, but they weren't full-on trying to stop the demo. Fine line between the two, though.

Anonymous said...

For me it was very difficult to go forward, even before Roppongi Dori we get stopped for Hours before we could cross the Crossing!

The Police need to stop the Traffic in front of the Diet, it is our given Right to express our Feelings, the Police need to ensure this, our Opinion is more important than a few Cars!

Why do the close the Koen in front of the Diet?

We will be like the East Germans, the North Africans and the Greece, we will be there next Friday too, C.U.!

Anonymous said...

I got to the demo no problem; of course I did not get off at Kokkaigijidomae, also because I was a little late.
Police did not seem especially tense, if not for trying to keep car and pedestrian traffic flowing. Everything was very peaceful and I hope it will stay this way.
On the other hand maybe starting some other peaceful and legal action that inflicts some pain other than "noise" inside Kantei could be considered.

JAnonymous said...

People stuck at Kokkaigijidomae were asking for it. The webpage (twitnonukes, that exskf admin has quoted here in there) clearly said "DO NOT GET OFF AT KOKKAIGIJIDOMAE".

I got off there two weeks before, blocking the station has nothing to do with free speech. It has to do with preventing trampling. The demonstration is in front of all the exits. People can not mechanically go out. Obvious thing is to close the station, because all exits are on the sidewalk, thus crowded.

Last week we walked under a light rain from Hibiya but it was also easy to get off at Kasumigaseki, Nagatacho, Toranomon, Tameike-Sanno. There are tons of stations around. Go work at 6AM, take an early leave, walk from a nearby park.

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