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Indignez-Vous! 'Fukushima' New Media and Anti-Nuclear Activism in Japan

Written by Nicola Liscutin
November 29, 2011

Nicola LiscutinIndignez-Vous! 'Fukushima,' New Media and Anti-Nuclear Activism in Japan

Indignez-vous! Get angry, resist and fight against the blatant social injustices in our world! Thus Stéphane Hessel, the 93-year old French former Resistance fighter, called on the youth in France, and everywhere else, in his inspirational pamphlet published in France in 2010. It has since been translated into dozens of languages, though not yet into Japanese. Indignation, for Hessel, provided the fundamental motivation for the Resistance movement in Nazi-occupied France, and he finds plenty of reasons for outrage today.

Anti-nuclear activism in Japan has grown at astonishing speed in response to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear crisis and its handling by the authorities. Over the past months, not a week has gone by without anti-nuclear protests taking place somewhere in Japan (see the nation-wide action calendar). In September, an intriguing array of new and established citizens' movements had called for an 'anti-nuclear action week' that was packed with rallies, lectures, symposia, film screenings, exhibitions and various other events. On 9.11, protests were staged across Japan, with three demonstrations in Tokyo alone. The action week culminated in a c. 60,000 people rally in Meiji Park on September 19 kicking off a movement to collect 10 million signatures for the Sayonara Gempatsu petition. Given that by the summer, forgetting seemed already to have begun, at least beyond Tohoku, the nation-wide spread of these protests and their demographics are remarkable: from seasoned demonstrators to the many who confessed that this was their very first protest action; from families bringing their toddlers and children, to teenagers, students, freeters, the middle-aged, and pensioners. This article examines the structures of resistance.

Nicola Liscutin is currently a Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Tokyo.

Recommended citation: Nicola Liscutin, 'Indignez-Vous! 'Fukushima,' New Media and Anti-Nuclear Activism in Japan,' The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol. 9, Issue 47 No 1, November 21, 2011.

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