Fukushima and Okinawa – the “Abandoned People” and Civic Empowerment

Fukushima and Okinawa – the “Abandoned People” and Civic Empowerment

Article written by Satoko Oka Norimatsu, Director of Peace Philosophy Center and Coordinator of The Asia-Pacific Journal.

Satoko Oka Norimatsu, Fukushima
and Okinawa – the “Abandoned People,” and Civic Empowerment

The people of Fukushima
and the people of Okinawa may both be described, as Okinawan peace activist and
writer Nishioka Nobuyuki does describe them, askimin, or “abandoned people.” Nuclear power
plants in poverty stricken rural areas and US military bases concentrated in
Okinawa are both rooted in the discriminatory policies of the national
government. Each discriminates against the periphery to assure the protection
of the state and guarantee the energy needs of the metropolis. In the backdrop
of the fifty-seven years long Japanese nuclear power policy is the corrupt
structure of “politics, bureaucracy, industry, labour organizations,
academia, and media,” what critics have labeled the “nuclear village.”
The central government targets vulnerable rural municipalities, already
suffering from depopulation and economic degradation, to accept nuclear
reactors or military bases, flashing subsidies, “white-elephant”
projects, and jobs. But neither U.S. bases nor nuclear reactors brought

This article examines the “abandoned
people” of Fukushima and Okinawa, in light of Japan’s 3.11 disaster and
the imposition of US bases on Okinawa, the responses of the Japanese government
to their plight, and particularly the strategies of resistance that have

Satoko Oka Norimatsu is a
writer and educator based in Vancouver, BC, Canada. She is Director of Peace
Philosophy Centre and a Coordinator of The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus.
Her upcoming book co-authored with Gavan McCormack, “NO! Okinawa’s Message
to Japan and the United States” will be published in spring 2012 by Rowman
and Littlefield.

Recommended citation:
Satoko Oka Norimatsu, ‘Fukushima and Okinawa – the “Abandoned
People,” and Civic Empowerment,’ 
The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol. 9, Issue 47 No 3,
November 21, 2011.

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