Hydrangea Revolution



The “Hydrangea Revolution” has begun.  On June 22, 2012 — the 1908 Red Flag Incident when Japanese anarchists and socialists took to the streets and were arrested as well as the 1987 anti-U.S. military-base demo in Okinawa, in which 18,000 people gathered and protested around the Kadena Air Force Base, also occurred on June 22 — over 40,000 demonstrators participated in an anti-nuclear protest in front of Prime Minister Noda Yoshihiko’s official residence in Tokyo.  Despite the complete cessation of all nuclear reactor operation in early May and continuing ruination of life and ecology due to the 3.11 disaster, last Saturday Noda approved the resumption of two reactors in Oi in utter disregard of public opinion.  This state power, which has shown itself in earlier historical Vpermutation to readily suppress any sign of dissent via arrest and torture (Red Flag Incident), today imposes severe regulation on how demos are conducted and mobilizes the Public Security Intelligence Agency to keep under surveillance the people exercising their absolutely necessary democratic right of dissent; it also continues to slavishly do the bidding of its superpower master by maintaining — against popular opposition — U.S. military bases in Okinawa and elsewhere in Japan.  The “Hydrangea Revolution” is not merely a protest movement against nuclear power — it is a movement against the totality of this repressive state apparatus, in which population control and military-industrial dependence on the U.S. have been the very premise of nuclear energy development in postwar Japan.

In Man’yoshu (“Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves”), Otomo no Yakamochi composed a verse about hydrangea: “Even among unspeaking trees, there are those that shift easily like hydrangea.”  For Yakamochi, who was involved in various eighth-century ruling-class conspiracies for hegemonic dominance of the ancient Japanese state (Tachibana no Naramaro’s rebellion, Hikami no Kawatsugi’s rebellion, plot to assassinate Fujiwara no Nakamaro), “hydrangea” represented the deceptive coloration of blood-immersed power politics in the embryonic bureaucratic state machinery.  For us, for whom the cessation of nuclear reactor is an embryonic metaphor for the cessation of the state, our sentiment is closer to Rilke’s “Blue Hydrangea”: “Yet suddenly the blue revives, it seems/and in among these clusters one discovers/a tender blue rejoicing in the green” (trans. Bernhard Frank).  Hydrangea possesses a lethal poisonous property that produces convulsion and paralysis.  Noda, the heads of the Kansai Electric Company, and other “merchants of death” who base themselves on nuclear power, these latter-day Yakamochis who have lost their poetic power in exchange for gaining the power of conspiratorial violence to murder the people, must not only eat radioactive soil, as the Fukushima farmer and mother Sachiko Sato demanded, but also feast on the bouquet of hydrangeas we have picked from the field of our rage, which we are now cultivating together in the streets.

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PDF (日本語)

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