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The No Nukes 2012 Concert and the Role of Musicians in the Anti-Nuclear Movement via Japan Focus

On July 7–8, 2012, a two-day mass rock concert called No Nukes 2012 was held in the Makuhari Messe Convention Center in Chiba, near Tokyo. The organizer was Sakamoto Ryuichi, member of the groundbreaking Japanese technopop group Yellow Magic Orchestra (YMO) and Academy Award-winning composer. Profits for the concert were donated to Sayonara Genpatsu 1000 Man Nin Akushon (Citizens’ Committee for the 10 Million People’s Petition to say Goodbye to Nuclear Power Plants), an antinuclear group which Sakamoto has been backing, along with Nobel Prize-winning author Oe Kenzaburo and others. The concert featured performances by 18 groups, including pioneering electronic groups Kraftwerk and YMO as well as rock bands Asian Kung-Fu Generation, Acidman, and others.
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Although recent polls have indicated that 70% of Japanese oppose restarting the nuclear power plants following their temporary shutdowns, many people feel that in their work, school, or social settings, it is taboo to talk about nuclear issues. Some are afraid to attend protests due to heavy police presence and the social costs of being arrested in Japan, where the police can detain people for 23 days without an indictment. In fact, a large number of people at the No Nukes concert appeared to have come by themselves. By appearing at the Kantei protest as an “ordinary citizen,” Sakamoto was demonstrating that everyone, indeed, should participate.

Entertainers, too, have felt a need to keep quiet. The case of Yamamoto Taro is a stark reminder of the high cost of taking a defiantly antinuclear stance. This popular actor, who had appeared in many films and television dramas, made a video for Operation Kodomotachi, a nonprofit organization supporting the evacuation of children from Fukushima; in it, he was bluntly critical of the government’s setting of mandatory evacuation zones, which he claimed were too small and made so in order to save money. Yamamoto was dismissed from an upcoming television drama and prompted to resign from his agency; his acting opportunities evaporated; and his friends and girlfriend deserted him (Yamamoto 2012). He eventually took a job as a salaryman.1

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