Monday, August 6, 2012

(UPDATE: Meeting Postponed) Prime Minister Noda to Meet with Friday Protest Organizers on August 8 Afternoon, for 20 Minutes

(UPDATE: As I was writing this post, the meeting was apparently postponed to a later, unknown date because of the vote in the Upper House on the welfare and tax "reform" bill, according to the organizers' official twitter.)


The vocal organizers of the Metropolitan Coalition Against Nukes say they are going to "make a direct request and recommendations to Prime Minister Noda" on August 8, 2012.

The Prime Minister's Official Residence says Prime Minister will meet the representatives of citizens' organizations that have been protesting in front of the PM's Official Residence since March this year for about 20 minutes so that Prime Minister can explain to the boys and girls about the national nuclear policy.

In other words, nothing more than a photo op for both sides.

One of the organizers (who have been attacking anyone who dare criticize them or who make suggestion to them on Twitter) says they have been spending long, thankless hours coordinating with the Prime Minister's Office to make this meeting happen, and thanks to her and her colleagues' negotiating skills, the Prime Minister's Office has now agreed to netcast the meeting on the official website at, and even allow in the reporters who are the members of the Japan Press Club.

According to the Metropolitan Coalition Against Nukes website, they have 4 recommendations for PM Noda (so they abandoned the "single issue" insistence for the occasion):


1. Stop the restart of Ooi Nuclear Power Plant.
2. Never restart the nuclear power plants currently stopped for maintenance.
3. Make it the national policy to decommission all nuclear power plants.
4. Withdraw the appointment of commissioners for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission

No mention of the exact time other than "August 8 afternoon, subject to change or cancellation".

Well, other than the last one which is the topic de jour more than Ooi Nuke Plant, it is still the "single issue" of stopping the nuke plants. Not a word on issues that many protesters want to express their views on, such as radiation contamination in Tohoku and Kanto, and plight of people in Fukushima.

Noda's intention is pretty much clear:

  • Be done with the Friday protesters once and all by treating these organizers as "representatives" of the protesters;

  • Carry out a formality of "meeting with the citizens" as part of "democracy", to deflect criticism from within the party and from the opposition; and

  • Knock off attempts by former PM Kan and Hatoyama to prolong the "coordination" phase with their help by meeting the organizers much earlier than expected by both Kan and the organizers when they met on July 31.

It's to the benefit of these young organizers too, because they will be able to claim they are the "representatives" of the movement (at least of Friday protests at the PM Official Residence), representing ordinary citizens and therefore having the legitimacy and right to tell them what to do and say.

There are citizens, both ordinary and not so ordinary, who are anti-nuclear but don't want these people to "represent" them, and there are friends and sympathizers of the organizers busy attacking these people. It is rather a sad sight to see on Twitter.

I haven't saved many of the tweets by the organizers because they were too disheartening and sometimes quite vile (they may ruin your day if you are not careful), but here's one in response to those people who don't want the organizers to "represent" them (one of the rare, better ones; my translation taking the meaning not necessarily the literal words):


Our organization submitted the request to Noda in April through the Cabinet Office once. We have been asking for a direct meeting with Noda for several weeks but have been turned down. The meeting will finally happen this week, but the meeting is about us talking directly with the prime minister. What's the matter with these people who are saying we're not their "representatives"? They're way off.

Well, as one person pointed out to her, the reason Messrs. Kan and Hatoyama wanted to have her and her group meet with the prime minister (for their own political calculations) is because so many people have started to come to the Friday protests. They don't come to the protests so that these organizers can meet with the prime minister. And if people hadn't come, Messrs. Kan and Hatoyama, and other party leaders like Mr. Yasuo Tanaka (the one distributing white balloons) wouldn't have bothered. So is there any appreciation for the "rest of us" who have effectively made the meeting happen for them? No.

Here's another member (or ex-member, as he claims), complaining about the protesters who don't follow their instructions, including a union member and a "low-class" middle-aged woman (my translation taking the meaning):


I think we can just completely ignore these idiots. The police can do whatever they want with them. What do you think when you see a drunk acting out in Kabuki-cho [famous entertainment district in Shinjuku, Tokyo]? None of your business, right? You just think, what a piece of sh_t. It's the same thing here.

If they talk trash, they should do it using DM function of Twitter so that it is among themselves. Instead, they do it out in the open, for anyone to read. I guess that's their choice. In your face. I guess that's what being young is about, for them.

Seeing these tweets and many, many more, people have started to object having these organizers represent them (no matter what these organizer say, it is being framed as such and understood as such) in the post-Fukushima anti-nuclear movement.

Independent journalist Yasumi Iwakami has said he will interview the organizers right before they are to meet with Prime Minister Noda. Mr. Iwakami seems to have his own reservations, though he and his organization have been tirelessly covering the Friday protests and protests all over the country, big or small. I've seen a USTREAM video that an IWJ volunteer was netcasting, and it was a 5-person protest on the street corner in Aomori Prefecture. If he hadn't been covering the Friday protest and putting the scenes on his USTREAM channels, I don't think the protest would have grown this big. Any word of appreciation from the organizers? No. They are not about to share the credit.

The organizers are in a stereotypical attribution error where a success is all because of them, and any failure is because of someone else.

We'll see if they can even put in a single word to Prime Minister Noda, who is known for his speech-making abilities.

They say there will be a protest outside the Prime Minister's Official Residence at the time of the meeting on August 8.


rtega said...

And another nice one:

John said...

You only need to understand one word: co-optation.

Nancy said...

The govt. is looking for anything to end the protests, meeting with the organizers fits that bill. The govt. is hoping the meeting will seem enough like resolution that people will go home. This meeting could be a very bad thing if those representing the groups protesting give any sort of agreement to whatever hollow BS Noda tries to put forth. A meeting isn't needed to get the point across, people have been clear what the crowd wants. The interaction dynamics of the organizers and this meeting are diversions that should not be distracting from the issue at hand.

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