Occupy Tokyo

With the ‘occupy’ movement gaining momentum out of New York to all corners of the globe, Japan has organized its own protests with Occupy Tokyo to held from the 15th of October.

The issues which concern the Japanese protesters are local in nature and revolves mainly around the handling of the March tsunami and the consequent nuclear disaster, the constantly changing prime ministers, high unemployment rate and the fact that making a comfortable living is becoming more difficult as the years pass.

following the March disaster, Tokyo has been the site for something that is rarely seen in Japanese society – public protesters dissatisfied with the way their country has been run. In a country where drawing attention to yourself or speaking out is frowned on it is indeed an unusual sight and organisers are hoping that the anti-nuclear protests could be a catalyst for the Occupy movement.

Many involved questioned the viability of the Occupy Tokyo movement, wondering if protesters would have enough time and force to galvanise the movement. But as the 15th rolled around, 300 people turned up at two locations (Roppongi and Shinjuku) to protest against income inequality as well as nuclear power and Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco).

Here is a video of the Shinjuku protest

More images of the protest can be seen in this article by the Japan Subculture Research Centre.

Slogans seen on the day read “Let’s firmly oppose the TPP that only makes 1 percent [of the population] happy”, “No to Radioactivity” and “The 1 percent who are stained with their greed for profits should disappear for the sake of the world’s happiness”.

Here is an exert from an article off The Japan Times website where Journalist Takahiro Fukada was able to interview some protester;

Kazuko Hirano, an 80-year-old pensioner from Setagaya Ward, said she decided to participate because she strongly believes Japan should eliminate nuclear plants.

“[I joined to get] as many people as possible angry about nuclear power plants and to make demands to the state” to halt them, she said.

Masashi Hayasaki, an employee from Tokorozawa, Saitama Prefecture, decided to show up because he is concerned about the TPP talks.

Joining the free-trade negotiations will see the country “swallowed by global capitalism” and “destroy Japanese tradition and culture,” he said.

“I just want to tell pedestrians not to be indifferent to the TPP and nuclear power plants,” he said

and passers-by;

Passers-by had mixed feelings about the protests.

“Although it would be good if [nuclear power plants] did not exist, it is impossible to make them disappear immediately,” said a 23-year-old employee from Kawasaki who was shopping in the area.

The man, who would only give his last name, Azuma, said one of the key issues that needs to be resolved is the cost of fully making the conversion from nuclear power to wind, thermal and other renewable forms of energy.

Another man from Saitama, who came to see what the protest was like, said, “We should consider” whether to hold onto nuclear power plants.

“Japan is peaceful since people can speak with various opinions,” said the man, 52, who declined to be named.