And the Word “Parade” Disappeared…


Photo: 11.26 Drums of Fury Demo by Kai-Wai 散策

The present social orientation around nuclear power seems to be at a deadlock in Japan. While the public opinion that supports “abolition in the future” is almost stabilized in 70% strong, the Noda Administration that usurped the power from the Kan Administration for “post-nuclear” cannot declare promotion of it. The ruling class, it seems, is seeking to cool down the public angst in order to resume the operation of the plants before the suspension for inspection in the next spring, by obscuring its nuclear policy. That is to say, the administration is now striving to blur the axis of opposition.

Nonetheless the social movement tackling anti-nuke issues is progressing in terms of both quality and quantity. It can be said that the struggle in the past six months has been changing the relationship between the society and the movement.
The anti-nuke demo that took place on 9/11 in Shinjyuku Tokyo saw more than 10,000, but also an intense and overt attack by the police: harassment of rally gatherers, penetration into the march, and the arrest of 12 who protested against the conduct. The reason for this obsessive oppression is evident.
It was the festival space of 30,000 who took over
Alta Square in Shinjyuku after the march on 6/11. Everyone associated this unprecedented achievement with Tahrir Square. People saw in this a continuation of the global social change beginning from Tunisia and Egypt. What the police feared was the possibility of a radical expansion of the social movement from that limited to anti-nuke to an all-inclusive one. Therefore, on 9/11, right before the march started, the police ordered change of departure point from Alta Square to a park located 2 km away. In counter to this, the marchers declared that they would gather there in the evening. The police responded to this call by attacking the marchers in order to discourage the impetus before it reached Alta Square. The marchers, however, attempted to re-stage the festival space by returning to the square, which was blocked by Police’s obstacles by then, and still occupying it again.

This was our first experience, at least for our generation, to confront the state power over a symbolic space.

In Japan’s social movement at least during the past ten years, when a number of people were arrested, the anti-authoritarian milieu was always accused by political parties, labor unions and civil movements, and excluded from the majority. “You guys were too radical (…). That is why citizens in general do not feel comfortable participating.” But this time it was different.

On 9/17, a week after the above march, 60,000 strong gathered in an anti-nuke rally, which was organized by a coalition of the Social Democratic Party, the Communist Party, the Movement against Nuclear Weapons and a group of intellectuals, and wherein many other organizations were mobilized. The scenery was basically the same old one: there were blue-chip speeches, innumerable homogenous flags and old-timers enthusiastically singing The Internationale (…). But still the elevation of the demo was remarkable; it was unimaginable considering the conditions of the social movement three months ago. The internal conflict within the left up until June was as harsh as before 3/11.

But thereafter the situation changed. Innumerable marches have begun across Japan. Not only in Tokyo, but also in every corner of the archipelago, demos have come to be part of everyday events. In the street various encounters have taken place, new alliances have been built, accumulation of such experiences has made the lefts recognize the need of collaboration, and the efforts of coalition building have been instigated among organizations. This process during six months since 3/11 as well as the accumulation of the experiences intensified the centrifugal force that appeared in the 9/19 rally. (I think that the actual number of participants was much more than 60,000, and in passing this scale of rally had not taken place at least in the past twenty years in Japan.) In distinction from the Alta Square 6/11, the 9/11 rally was conventional in the sense that it was a rally organized by parties, but the content was fulfilled by the force from bellow. In an old shell, something new is being born, as it were.

Another crucial element is expression. In 2003, anti-Iraq war movement arose in Japan, too. At that time, people came to call the street action “parade” instead of “demo.” The use of the term actually framed the action itself. It came out of the intension: we want not only leftist activists but also the common people to participate. From my view, however, this did not address to the people, but ended up being an accommodation to the major culture of social movement. In the anti-war rallies in 2003, a territorialization was devised among groups such as labor unions, civic groups and so on, without coordination in diversity — as if reversing the experience of Seattle 1999. Also over the new tactic of “sound demonstration,” main organizers and the promoters of the tactic opposed each other. The former was saying that the radical tactic like sound demo would not be accepted by the Japanese people. Furthermore, when comrades were arrested during sound demos, the organizers did not even offer any support. In that climate, the tendency toward majority participation resulted in division and shrinkage of the impetus. After the peak where a 50,000 mobilization took place, the movement died down quickly. In Japan it was only during two months that the anti-Iraq war movement enjoyed its popularity.

Things are different this time. I heard a comment: “Someone watching us drumming buckets and playing harmonicas said he would do these next time. When drummers welcome marchers with their beat, union members within the march showed appreciation joyfully by waving hands.”
A first time demo-participant said: “After having walked today, I felt we can have hopes for change. There were so many people and their heat encouraged me. There were many first-timers like myself, who showed confusion and hesitation at certain moments, but I find it was significant that so many people — including both walkers and bystanders — gathered here today with their interests.” “I saw a couple unwittingly repeating the call of ‘Stop Nukes!’ after the demo. They did not seem like walkers, but were enjoying. I also saw a young man telling a girl ‘I would begin to think seriously.’ That persuaded me about the effects of demos.”

During the rally of 9/19, a group who were working for jail support for the arrestees of 9/11 was cheered and encouraged by everyone. Their fundraising was immediately successful with more than 600 thousand yen turn-out. A widely heard impression is: “seeing actions whose styles are different from mine is encouraging.” In Japan the experience of discovering a commonality among those who have different experiences, ideologies and styles has long since lost up until now. Where we are at – is it Seattle 1999 or approaching Tahrir?

And the word “parade” has disappeared. Bad patterns of conduct inherent in Japanese social movement in the past several decades — activists unilaterally defining the people as conservative, ignoring the sense of liberation and festivity produced by street demos, letting the collectively created imagination dry out and making the movement shrink (…) – have finally been surpassed one step. The anti-Iraq war movement in 2003 was a conditioned reflex to the war and attained a certain amount of mobilization, but unable to overturn the major culture of the previous social movement. On the other hand, the anti-nuke movement that arose at the wake of 3/11 is gradually undermining the common sense of the conventional activist culture, underlined as it is by the half-year experience, and nurturing a new culture of action. The walk of this shift is slow despite the seriousness of the situation, but it is steady and not capricious as the ruling class hopes it to be. It won’t disappear, no matter how much they wish it to.

PDF (English)

Chigaya Kinoshita is an adjunct professor of Political Science, born in 1971, Tokushima, Japan.








9・11デモのほぼ一週間後、9・19日に東京で開催された反原発集会には6万人が結集した。社民党、共産党や原水爆禁止運動、知識人が連携し、組織動員も行われてのものであった。そこでみられた情景は、「有名人」が登壇し、のぼり旗が林立し、居酒屋でおっさん たちがインター熱唱するなど、これまでと同じような側面があった。しかしながら、こ の9・19の集会が提起された三か月前の社会運動の「条件」をおもいかえしてみると、この9・19のデモの高揚は予想もできなかった。6月時点までの左翼の組織間の対立は3・11以前と同じく深刻なものだったからだ。ところがその後、全国で無数のデモが展開された。東京の大きなデモだけではなく、日本列島のすみずみでデモが「あたりまえ」のように行われるようになった。そして街頭ではこれまでとはことなる出会いが生まれ、関係が構築され、そうした経験の蓄積が、左派の協働の必要性を実感させ、そして、それに応じるかたちで組織間の協働もさまざまなレベル ですすんだのである。この六か月間のプロセスが、そこでの経験の蓄積が、この9・19のー―実際には6万人以上が参加していたとおもわれる。なお6万人規模集会は、日本では少なくともここ20年はない――集会の求心力を高めていったのである。9・11アルタ前集会とは異なり、9・19の集会は一見「昔と同じ」組織動員集会にはみえるけど、その内容は 「下からの力」で充填されたのだ。古い殻の中に、新しいものが生まれている。

もうひとつ大 事なのは「表現」である。2003年には、日本でもイラク反戦運動がおこなわれた。当時、街頭行動を「デモ」じゃなくて「パレード」と呼ぼうという動きがひろがった。この言葉づかいは、単に表現上の問題にとどまらず、当時の街頭行 動のあり方をも規定していた。日本的な意味合いでこの「パレード」という言葉を使うのは、「これまでの左翼だけじゃなくもっと多くの普通の人に参加してほしい」という意図から出たものだった。それはしかし、僕からいわせれば「民衆」に対してではなく、「主流文化」に迎合するだけのものだった。2003年イラク反戦集会では、1999シアトルの経験に逆行するような、「労働組合はこち ら」「市民はこちら」などという「すみわけ」を常態化させる「工夫」がとられた。また、同じ時期に台頭したサウンドデモのような新しいスタイルの急進主義の戦術をめぐって、反戦運動の主催者とサウンドデモ側は、対立した。「サウンドデモのような「過激」なやりかたは、日本人には受け入れられない」というわけである。実際、サウンドデモから逮捕者がでても、デモ主催者は対応すらまともにしてくれなかった。そして、「とにかく多くの人にうけいれられよう」という 傾向が運動間の分断と萎縮をまねき、イラク反戦デモは最大参加者5万人をピークにあっという間に動員力を失なったのである。日本のイラク反戦運動がポピュラーなものだったのはたった二か月の間だけだった。

しかし今回は違った。こんな感想がある「我々が空き缶叩いたり、ハーモニカ吹いているのをみて、次回は自分たちも 楽器だ、と言っている人もいた。そして、ドラム隊が太鼓をたたいてデモ隊列を迎えいれると、労働組合の人々が手を振って喜んでいた」。


この9・19の明治公園の集会 では、この逮捕者のカンパを集めるグループに参加者がみなエールをおくり、励まし、一緒にカンパを集めてくれた。あっというまに60万円以上が集まった。「自分とは違うスタイルの活動に触れて励まされた」という感想がある。このような異なる経験や思想、スタイルを持った者同士の「共同性の発見」の経験は、日本では久しくな かったことである。われわれはいま、1999のシアトルにいるのだろうか?それともタハリールに迫ろうとしているのだろうか?

PDF (日本語)


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