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KOENJI "GENPATSU YAMERO" demonstration!!!!!!
Written by Mizuki TANAKA   
Published: May 06 2011

On April 10, 2011, “KOENJI ‘GENPATSU YAMERO’ demonstration!!!!!!” was held in Koenji, Suginami Ward, Tokyo. Following an accident which had occurred at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station due to the 2011 off the Pacific coast of Tohoku Earthquake, the demonstration was held with the aim of showing opposition against nuclear power stations. From 2:00 pm, the demonstrators started to gather in Koenji Chuo Park located within one minute walking distance of the south exit of Koenji station. The demonstration march started from 3:00 pm. The demonstrators paraded through Shinkoenji station and Higashikoenji station, and broke up at the north exit of Koenji station at around 7:00 pm. It is said that more than thousands of people were participated in the demonstration.*1 In fact, compared to other demonstrations which have been held in Japan in recent years, a record number of participants took part in the demonstration of this time. However, perhaps because the date of the demonstration coincided with that of nationwide local elections, the demonstration was covered as part of news by only one commercial TV station in Japan. The atmosphere of the demonstration was reported on the Internet.*2

fig. 1  View from the demonstration, photo by the author

fig. 2  View from the demonstration, photo by the author

fig. 3  View from the demonstration, photo by the author

    Many people may not know about the demonstration since most of Japanese major media companies, such as TV stations and newspaper companies, did not cover it. However, the coverage through word-of-mouth communication and video sites on the Internet seemed to make younger generations who were familiar with the Internet get an opportunity to know what was going on now and think about it as a serious problem for them. The participants of the demonstration were individually taking pictures and animated images or sending out messages to Twitter*3 in real time. Presently, if you search for “Koenji/Demonstration” on Google (one of large search engines), you would be able to view approximately 386,000 sites.*4

    The demonstration was organized by Hajime Matsumoto. He runs “Shirouto-no-ran” in the form of a combination of a recycled-goods shop and an event site in Koenji. The antinuclear power movement of this time was held in Koenji perhaps due to the fact that Matsumoto is developing activities based in Koenji. Matsumoto has organized various kinds of demonstrations, including “HOUCHI JITENSHA HANTAI! (Demonstration that opposes abandoned bicycle removal )”, “Demonstration that opposes PSE method” and “YACHIN wo TADA NI SHIRO IKKI (Demonstration “Make the rent free”)”. Apparently, these demonstrations seem to have been based on his private matters and the titles of them give us selfish and funny impressions. However, the demonstrations which have been organized by Matsumoto have raised various kinds of issues which modern people should share, such as problems regarding a proprietor of streets, interests of selling goods, and a deterioration of working environment and a drop in income among the young people.

    By the way, “Shirouto-no-ran” is the space which Hikaru Yamashita, who is Matsumoto’s business partner at “Shirouto-no-ran”, has been using for conducting performances in the name of “Trio4” (the artistic performance group), and developing modern art activities, including organizing exhibitions. The demonstration which was held this time can be said to have provided citizens with a place which made it possible for them to express themselves. The participants of the demonstration who agreed to the “opposition against nuclear power stations” included young people dressed in casual clothes, young couples with small children, bandsmen who were holding musical instruments,*5 groups of people dressed as clowns and Chindon-ya (a group of commercial performers), rather than people who had had an experience of being engaged in political activities. In addition, there were trucks on which DJ booths and stages had been fixed and people with instruments in their hands. Music was being heard continuously throughout the demonstration. I found that the demonstrators were clapping their hands and shouting along with rap conveying messages of opposing nuclear power plants. The participants were holding placards of their own making. Other than “opposition against nuclear power stations”, various phrases were found on their placards, such as “GENPATSU SAYONA LION”, which was based on music entitled “AISATSU NO MAHO” used in CM by Advertising Council Japan (this CM was aired again and again while private companies were being imposed to refrain from producing their CM immediately after the earthquake disaster), and “KODOMO TACHI NI MIRAI WO”, which meant expectations of the bright future for not only adult participants but also their children.

    At the demonstration site, I found there were many citizens who were expressing their own intentions not at home but on the street. The demonstration gave the participants an opportunity to express themselves only by walking together on the street, even though most of them were holding nothing in their hands and only wearing casual clothes. The number of demonstrations held in Japan is fewer than that in other countries. Mostly the number of people who participate in demonstrations in our country is also fewer than that in other nations. Various kinds of movements which were held in Japan in the 1960s have already become things of the past. In recent years, compared to foreign nationals, Japanese can be said to have become extremely silent citizens. However, it must have been a breakthrough opportunity for us that the “KOENJI ‘GENPATSU YAMERO’ demonstration!!!!!!” made us recognize the importance of conveying our own thoughts and the demonstration was conducted on a large scale in Japan.*6

I hope Japanese political leaders are not too ignorant of the world to notice the reality which the demonstration of this time told us.


(*1) According to the organizer of the demonstration, 15,000 people participated in the demonstration. From what I saw at the site at around 3:00 pm on the day, the gathering place, Koenji Chuo Park, had already been filled with the demonstrators and the participants could also be found on the streets around the park. Regarding the number of the participants of the demonstration, various opinions are presently posted on the Internet. The number ranges from 1,500 to 18,000. As far as I saw at the site, there were several thousand people who were participated in the demonstration at the time of its start. The number of them seemed to increase gradually throughout the demonstration.

(*2) In foreign countries, some media, such as BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) and Reuters, covered the demonstration.

(*3) Twitter is the name of communication service in which users can send and read a short sentence, “tweet”, which is made by using 140 or less words. It was started by Obvious (currently Twitter) in July 2006.

(*4) As of 4:00 pm on April 11, 2011

(*5) According to formal information, there were a number of musicians who were participated in the demonstration, such as The Happening, Punkrocker Laborunion, Fujirokkyu (provisional title), Dotsuitarunen, pinprick punishment, PPP, Jintaramuta, Wataru Ohkuma (cl/CICALA-MVTA), Miwazo Kogure (Chindondaiko/CICALA-MVTA), Hiroshi Kawamura (g/ex: Soul Flower Union), JIGEN (b/Momonashi, Soul Flower Union, Zuno-Keisatsu), Takero Sekijima (tuba), Gideon Juckes (tuba/CICALA-MVTA, Shibusashirazu), Mari Sekine (per/Shibusashirazu), Yoko Tada (sax/Komacchakurezuma, etc.), and Shigeru Yoshino (sax).

(*6) On April 10, demonstrations were held in various places in Japan in addition to Koenji. For example: “ZENKOKU ISSEI DATSU-GENPATSU DEMO in SAPPORO” in Sapporo City (Hokkaido), “HAMAOKA GENPATSU WO SUGU TOMERO! DEMONSTRATION” in Shibahama (Tokyo), “IMAGINE, GENPATSU NO NAI MIRAI” in Kamakura City (Kanagawa), “KOENJI RENDO!!++ HAN GENPATSU Bar HAMAOKA” in Nagoya City (Aichi) , “4.10 DATSU-GENPATSU KINKYU KODO in TOYAMA” in Toyama City (Toyama), “HAN- GENPATSU HANAMI SHUKAI” in front of The Chugoku Electric Power Co., Inc. (Hiroshima), “MINAMI ASO DAIZU DAKKOKU GENSHIYOKU MATSURI” in Takamori Town, Aso County (Kumamoto), and “GENPATSU YAMERO DEMO!” in Naha City (Okinawa). Furthermore, antinuclear power demonstrations were also held in foreign countries, including New York, Seattle, Eugene, San Francisco, Miami (U.S.), Montreal (Canada), Berlin, Gottingen (Germany), Suwon (South Korea), Panzano (Italy), and Rennes (France).
(Translated by Nozomi Nakayama)

Reffered event:

“KOENJI ‘GENPATSU YAMERO’ demonstration!!!!!!” held in Koenji, Suginami Ward, Tokyo, on April 10, 2011
4.10 GENPATSU YAMERo DEMO!!!!!! http://410nonuke.tumblr.com/

Last Updated on October 21 2015

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