Social movements in Japan after 3.11

by Yurino Kawamura

Social movements in Japan have been popular after 3.11 earthquake and Fukushima-Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident. Social movements used to be popular in Japan among university students in the 1960s to 1970s. Students of many universities, such as University of Tokyo or Nihon University, gathered into several thousands to protest for various reasons such as being against for tuition raise or change in university dorms rules. Although these movements achieved their goals to some extent, according to their violent aspect which lead to more than 100 death in total, rapidly scaled down. Since then, these movements have long been slowed down for several decades. However, as the Internet became widespread among citizens, social movements gradually retrieved its popularity. One of the recent and relatively large-scale protest was anti-Fuji television protest held in August 2011. This protest focused on the T.V. programs of Fuji television and accused that it was too much supportive for a specific country. Focusing on a fact that T.V. programs disregarded Japanese figures compared to those from a specific country, many conservatives joined to the protest. It can also be noted that social media such as Twitter or Niconico Douga played an important role in wide-spreading the protest to a massive scale. Although several thousand people have gathered, achievement of this protest is difficult to measure and is quite arguable.

Currently most popular social movement in Japan is no doubt anti-nuclear protests which had quickly spread throughout Japan after 3.11. Framing the issue as health problem especially upon small children, anti-nuclear protests have rapidly gained support from mothers nationwide. Focusing on the health issues, protesters complain that politicians cannot abandon nuclear power because they are receiving support from economic community. Framing nuclear power with economic growth and anti-nuclear power with children’s health is effective in penetrating anti-nuclear policies into housewives and mothers of small children. Protests have gathered more than a hundred thousand people in front of the office of Prime Minister. The fact that this many people have gathered shows how popular this protest has become. Now, I am keeping an eye on the next election for the House of Representative. After the 3.11 earthquake, many new parties calling for no-nuclear policies have been formed. Considering that these policies have been adopted because of the citizens’ protest, if these new parties acquire many seats in the House of Representative that means citizens’ protests have changed the political framework. Since I am eager to know how much effect can the protests make, I want to know how much change will this protest bring about.

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