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Tokyo Rally Is Biggest Yet to Oppose Nuclear Plan via The New York Times

TOKYO — In Japan’s largest antinuclear rally since the disaster at Fukushima, tens of thousands of protesters gathered at a park in central Tokyo on Monday to urge the government to halt its restarting of the nation’s reactors.

Organizers said 170,000 people filled a Tokyo square to sing songs, beat drums and cheer on a series of high-profile speakers who called for more Japanese to make their voices heard. The police put the number at 75,000, still making it the biggest gathering of antinuclear protesters since the Fukushima accident last year.

“To stay silent in the wake of Fukushima is inhuman,” the Oscar-winning musician Ryuichi Sakamoto told the crowd, which braved soaring temperatures to gather at Yoyogi Park.

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Rally organizers have gone to great lengths to project a friendly image in a generally conformist country where protesters of any kind are seen by many as fringe agitators at best and terrorists at worst. This perception is left over from mass protests in the 1960s and ’70s against a security treaty with the United States, during which rioters armed with pipes and makeshift gasoline bombs clashed with the police.

At the weekly protests in front of the prime minister’s office, organizers cordon off family-only zones to urge parents with children to participate. They also ask protesters to cooperate with the local police and to go home at 8 p.m. on the dot.

Organizers have also started issuing pamphlets with advice on what to bring (drinks and hand wipes on sticky days), advice for shy or first-time participants (no need to say anything) and guidance on what to do if fellow demonstrators start getting out of hand (politely ask them to calm down).

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