July 2012


(Photo: TomoyukiTsuchiya)

We saw the advent of the ‘season of the movement’ in July 2012 – a rare experience in Japanese political history. Well over a million people participated in anti-nuke rallies and demonstrations throughout the country. Yet these waves do not stop and we are living in the unprecedented political process day by day, minute by minute. One of the pillars of the movement is the ongoing weekly demonstration in front of the Prime Minister’s residence on Fridays. Beginning with approximately 300 participants in March, the protest rapidly grew in June and by July over 100,000 people took to the street every weekend, creating an uninhibited space. Coincidentally, reminding us of the Egyptians’ Tahrir Square after the Friday prayer, the Tokyo anti-nuke gathering offers a place for people to swing by after work on Friday evenings to raise their voice. The rapid grow of the protest was triggered by Noda Administration’s decision to restart the Ohi nuclear plants in western Japan. Following the nuclear disaster in March 2011, nuclear power plants in Japan began to be turned off one after another due to a need for stricter regulations and people’s resistance. Finally, the last remaining reactor was stopped in May 2012, leaving the entire nation nuclear energy-free. However, despite the fierce public opposition, the Noda Administration forcibly restarted one of the reactors for the sake of maintaining the nuclear capital.

We must not, however, overlook the fact that this spark of the movement didn’t come into existence just as a temporary and reflexive opposition to the current policy of the administration. But the driving force originates in the accumulation of experiences during this long one year and half since the nuclear accident. Facing the crises of their lives and everyday life, the people studied nuclear energy and radiology through collecting information on the internet and engaging in conversations at meetings and study groups. In retrospect, the year 2011 was the time of power accumulation in order to create the current political eruption. For instance, most of the people who came to the last April’s “Genpatsu Yamero Demo! (Stop the Nuclear Demo)”, the first demonstration that mobilized over 10,000 people in Koenji Tokyo, were first time participants in political demonstrations. A publishing editor I know of, who had never been to demos, courageously took to the street on April 10th and has since participated in over 50 street protests. Frightened and restless at protecting their lives, many people gradually began stepping into the street to share conversations and encounters, and to realize the power of collectivity. The accumulation of such tiny efforts and acts of individuals was the very source that raised the bursting storm of anger.

The space in the street creates many human narratives that are as visibly diverse as the backgrounds and circumstances of the people who occupy it. In the twilight, the call “Saikadoh Hantai (No to the Restart)!” from countless voices continues to resonate in the tightly packed street for two full hours. Some start singing spontaneously in the ‘family area’ designated for the people with small children who want to safely participate in the protest. Some are quietly standing on the staircase to subway. Some are crying. On July 29th, after reaching 200,000 in number, the crowd finally bursted off the sidewalk and spilled onto the street right in front of the Prime Minister’s residence. It seemed like it occurred fairly naturally to many of the people — they slowly emerged till they filled up the street. As I was watching from the front line thousands of people turning the empty street into a packed space, I felt the looming excitement and heat from the moving people, but no fear. While this new situation prompted me to pause and wonder ‘so what now,’ a strong emotion welled up in me that I was finally able to have a dialogue with those who gathered at this very place to grasp ‘a piece of the future’ during the Anpo struggle 50 years ago. In 1960, Japan was in the midst of the rough wave of modernization; hundreds of thousands filled the same street protesting the revision of the Japan-US Security Treaty. It was the moment the people of Japan tried to actively choose their own future. However, at the same time, this moment was forgotten in the shadow of the ‘wealthy lifestyle’ imposed upon the people during the rapid economic growth. I heard of a conversation between two young women during the Friday protest;
“I heard this is something historical, and a protest this big hasn’t happened since the Anpo struggle in 1960.”
“Yeah so did I.”
“I wonder if, one day decades later, we are going to tell our kids that we were in the historical demonstration in 2012.”

The protests in July do not simply mean a momentary reaction to the outrage of the current administration. It is but an opportunity for numberless experiences and ideas merge and collide, an opportunity for us to re-encounter the past, and opportunity to take back the history of attempts – to make our own future. While still living alongside the evil of the unprecedented nuclear disaster and the ongoing radiological hazards, and while facing straight up against the ultimate form of subordination to the U.S. and the oppressive government that feeds neoliberalism, we shall curve the new history, commemorating the month of July as the beginning of people’s time.

PDF (English)





2012年7月 は、日本政治史上まれにみる「運動の季節」となった。同月、のべ100万人を超える人々が全国の反原発集会やデモに参加した。しかもこの巨大なうねりはい まだとどまることを知らず、わ たしたちは日々刻々と未体験の政治過程を歩んでいる。現在も毎週金曜日に首相官邸前で行われている抗議行動はその柱のひとつである。今年の3月に300人 ほどの参加者ではじまったこの行動は、6月に入ると参加者が激増し、7月に入ると毎週10万規模の人々が集まる開放空間へと発展していった。エジプト革命 の「金曜礼拝後のタハリール広場への結集」を想起させるこの曜日と時間を固定させた定期的な集会は、意欲ある人々が仕事がえりにも気軽に参加し意思表明が できる場として定着をみつつある。

だが、ここで看過してはならないのは、こうした動きが単に政権の方針への反発という一時的、反射的なものとして生じたのではないということだ。その原動力は むしろ、原発事故以来のこの一年半の長い経験の蓄積にある。この一年半、人々は命と暮らしの危機に直面し、インターネットや対話を通じて情報を集め、原発 や放射能について学習した。いまからふりかえれば、2011年はこの政治的爆発を生み出す蓄積の時間だった。2011年4月10日に高円寺で開催された「原発やめろデモ!!」の一万人以上の参加者の大半は、はじめてデモを体験する人たちだった。それまで一度もデモに参加したことがなかったある編集者は、勇気を出してこの4月のデモに参加し、以後、50回以上デモに参加していると いう。命と暮らしの不安におびえながら、対話と出会い、そして集団であることの力を実感するために人々は街頭へと一歩踏み出しはじめた。こうしたひとりひとりのささやかな実践の積み重ねが、この爆発的な怒りの渦を巻き起こしたのだ。

集会につどう人々の経験や経緯が多種多様であるほど、その空間はさまざまな人間像を映し出す。夕刻に日が陰りゆくなか、立錐の余地なく人で埋まった歩道で二 時間にわたって「再稼働反対」を訴え続ける無数の人々。家 族連れが安心して参加できるように設置された「ファミリーエリア」で、自発的に歌をうたいはじめる人々。地下鉄の階段に黙って立っている人。泣いている 人。7月29日、参加者は20万 人に達し、ついに官邸前の路上が完全開放された。路上にあふれでる人々の大半はごく自然に路上に歩みではじめ、幾万の民衆 が路上を埋めていく瞬間を、私は前方正面からみていた。こちらに迫りくる人々の熱気と興奮は伝わってくるものの、しかし恐怖感は全くなかった。さあどうし ようかとあわてふためきはしたものの、この場所に結集し「未来の一断片」をつかもうとした安保闘争の参加者たちに、50年の時を経て遂に相見えたという想いが湧き上がってきた。1960年、 近代化の荒波の最中、日本では日米安保条約改定に反対する数十万の群衆がこの同じ場所を埋め尽くしていた。それは、日本の民衆が主体的に未来を選択しよう とした時間だった。しかしそれは、高度経済成長のもとでの「豊かな社会」の登場のなかで、いったんは忘れ去られた経験でもあった。金曜日の官邸前で、若い 女性二人がこんな会話をしていたそうだ。「これって,60年安保闘争以来の歴史的なことみたいよ」「そうらしいね」 「私たちも何十年か経って,あのとき歴史的なデモに参加したと自分の子供たちに言うときが来るのかな」。

7月 の諸行動は政権の暴挙への一時的反応ではない。それは無数の経験と思想がより深くまじりあう機会であり、わたしたちがふたたび過去と出会い、自らが主体的 に未来を選択しようとした歴史を奪還する契機でもあった。未曾有の原発事故と生涯にわたるであろう放射能被害に苛まれながら、そして究極の対米従属と新自 由主義改革を断行する圧政と真正面から対峙しながら、わたしたちはこの7月を「はじまりの時」と記念しつつ新たな歴史を刻んでいくことにきっとなるだろう。

PDF (日本語)

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