Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Japanese say "Sayonara to the Nuke" in a massive demonstration.

"I wonder whether we have to maintain nuclear power even putting our life at risk. I don’t think we have to" says Junpei Shigematsu, 37, an office worker from Kumamoto in Japan’s southern island of Kyushu. 

Someone compared it to the anti Vietnam war demonstrations in the USA in the 60's and this Japanese man, quoted in the Wall Street Journal Japan, came to Tokyo to voice his firm stance against the atomic energy. One cannot take the newspaper for an activist anti-atomic association of irresponsible people. 

So what is going on in Japan nowadays? What is behind this Monday July 16 2012 massive gathering of roughly 170.000 demonstrators against the man who was elected to power by the lobbies of the atomic energy, the prime minister Noda? 

Tokyo looked again as the Tokyo of the 60's when students gathered to make their opinion known on world issues with a great difference. This time the people here are from all ages and all professions. Talking to the people gathering at Yoyogi park or Nagatacho is very interesting in my interaction with this society whom I see for the first time as angry and worried as it was with the 1995 Aum Shinrikyo sect sarin nerve gas urban terrorist attack in Tokyo subway.

People were looking for direction in their life listening to Literature Nobel prize Oé Kenzaburo, and others such as music composer Ryuchi Sakamoto (awards winning composer of the music of the Last Emperor), Setouchi Jakucho, Keiko Ochiai, Hirose Takashi and many others such as writer journalist Satoshi Kamata. 

Something the Asahi shimbun who sees the "usual left minded demonstrators" did not see is the diversity and the multitude of people represented here and who acted with the most peaceful and polite manners.  Even the TV evening news program, this time, felt obliged to report, some briefly eventually, about this Yoyogi "Sayonara to the Nuke" massive demonstration. The movement’s leaders have collected 7.8 million signatures for a petition demanding the end of nuclear power but last month, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda decided to restart the reactor at Ohi plant in central Japan, while all Japan’s 50 working reactors are offline as unsecured according to international monitoring. The second reactor at Ohi is set to go online later this week, though. 

What is deeply anchored today in people's mind is the lack of trust for the authorities in relation to the atomic or nuclear  industry. Also deeply rooted today is the fear of an other Fukushima atomic energy accident and irradiation for decades, with the obligation as it is the case for 150.000 people ousted from their Fukushima region homes without proper status or compensation, to leave their home, their region, and see an irresponsible cold face bureaucracy destroy their life. "It is time to understand why this is only the beginning of heartbreak for Japan, and time to keep the children of Fukushima in your hearts and minds..." as one critic put it. 

About the Fukushima atomic accident played down by vested interests: The impact is nevertheless very serious, and now there is a time when things become more and more difficult for the Japanese (under tight self censorship restrictions) and the international media, the intellectuals, the politicians, and those who have interest in conformity to facts and accuracy to understand the importance of what is happening to Japan since Fukushima atomic energy accident March 11 2011. 

Why are media reports of those who go into the no go zone of Fukushima or those who follow months of work on the NPP constantly denied by the Noda's government and by the atomic energy sector and by their puddles? Why today are the Japanese average people, having only their kids to take care of, or the electricity bills to pay, getting into anger and challenge the "institutional lies?" We have reporters who visit the Fukushima region and combat the striking propaganda of the Japanese so called "nuclear village."

I did my coverage for RTL about yesterday's demonstration. The people I watched in these weekly gatherings are ordinary people, they see this practice of fooling the society as usual practice. On the other side, being the Devil's advocate, what we can say is that the very low cost of atomic energy is very attractive both for a policy maker and for an investor. But at what time does the low cost get you into troubles? We saw it at Fukushima, people told me, when security has been denied because of what some people or politicians regard as "a cultural" or what I'll call a mindset irresponsibility. 

Here is an example of what is really happening in Japan since Fukushima through the eyes of Professor Yves Lenoir, a well known scientist who work on Chernobyl and Fukushima and the health impact. He gives here an interview in 9 segments. His opinion is that this form of energy as it is built in Japan is dangerous for the people and it will take years to move to a more diversified source of energy. An eye opener, in French language.
Part I

Last but not least we have here a society -- Japan-- which still lives in the aftermath of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombing of August 6 and 9 1945. Here, more than anywhere else in the world, memory is alarmed and traumatic with this word: "Atomic." And nothing will ever erase this excruciating suffering that these people have had to endure and still do as the remaining Hibakusha remind us about the sheer folly of men. 

Making political pressure to shift from war to peaceful use of the atomic power, as Japan did under the pressure of the United States helped by politicians such as Nakasone and by media tycoon of the Yomiuri, was not a bad choice, but the impact was poorly managed as we can see decades after. We see what happens when the authorities decide to forget that security not greed is owned to any individual in a democratic society. 

The July 16th 2012 message of the 170,000 of Tokyo anti-atomic power plant demonstrators is that no-one should attempt to endanger life and to kill "just for electricity" says composer Sakamoto Ryuchi. Otherwise Sakamoto adds: "It is just barbaric." An elder Japanese professor, well versed into international politics, a friend of mine for many years, told me for the first time, on July the 14th Bastille Day celebrations in Tokyo's French embassy that Japan has an "identity crisis and live in the trauma of 1945 still today, but he adds, Japan does not dare to voice its concerns, internationally." It looks like a lot of younger and stable post war generations know exactly what they want and that they proved it on July 16th "Sayonara to the Nuke" huge demonstration!

Naturally, I sent my report about this Sayonara to the Nukes historic demonstration to my network RTL in France as requested by Paris newsroom.
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