Sunday, March 22, 2015

March 22: Large Demonstration and Parade Against Abe in Tokyo

I went to the large demonstration today at Hibiya in central Tokyo and in the warm, sunny weather, some 10,000 people showed up for the parade to surround the Parliament Building (Diet) - Japan's Palace of Westminster or Capitol Hill...

Update: Kyodo (J) has the number of participants today as 14,000.

The event was also billed as the "Democracy Convention 2015" in English.

If you have ever been to a large demonstration elsewhere, prepare yourself for the utter control here in Japan. Police and riot vans are everywhere, but as long as things go smoothly, like today, you can bring your baby stroller and your grandma... The organizers are committed to peaceful protests and so be it.

But, that may not be the way Japan's Public Security Intelligence Agency sees things, according to Eric Johnston in The Japan Times: Security blanket: Should Japan beef up its anti-terrorism measures?

Great coalition of hundreds of groups for solidarity with Okinawa and labour rights, against TPP, hate speech and nuclear power plants - and much more. It was also a massive display of support for democracy and Article 9, the peace clause in Japan's constitution, that Prime Minister Abe is trying to change.

English info:
Refuse Abe!
Reclaim our Democracy!
Mar. 22,
13:00 Hibiya Open-air Concert Hall
14:00 Petition Rally, Demo & Parade to surround the Parliament Building (Diet)

Hibiya Open-air Concert Hall
Around the Diet
To submit a petition to the Parliament members at the same time as surrounding the Diet building.

Committee for the 0322 Rally against the Abe administration.

Metropolitan Coalition against Nukes
National Network for Abolishing Nuclear Power Plants
PARC, Pacific Asia Resource Center

SEALS: Student Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy
TDC: Tokyo Democracy Crew
Citizens’ Group for Examining State Secrecy Law
Committee for the Wakamono Rally for Constitution
C.R.A.C.: Counter-Racist Action Collective
TA4AD: Tokyo Action for Anti-Discrimination
Lawyers for Civil Action in front of the Diet
JLAF: Japan Lawyers Association for Freedom
Lawyer’s Network Against TPP
SHOKKENREN: National Coalition of Workers, Farmers and Consumers for
Safe Food and Health, Japan
Japan’s Federation of Women’s Organizations
Beer and Cafe BERG Shinjuku
NOUMINREN: Japan Family Farmers’ Movement
MIN-IREN: Japan Federation of Democratic Medical Institutions
Federation of Commercial and Industrial Institutions
ZENROREN: National Confederation of Trade Unions
Tokyo Regional Council of Trade Unions
New Japan Women’s Association
ZEN-NOH ROREN: National Federation of Trade Unions of Agricultural Cooperative Associations in Japan

Concerns are mounting that the second Abe administration has been
reestablishing the political characteristics of the pre-1945 Japanese
government. Most recently, Prime Minister Abe capitalized on the ISIS
hostage crisis to argue that Japan should be ready to send Self Defense
Forces abroad, while it is widely known that the administration’s
military and confrontational stance against ISIS has aggravated the
situation. The combination of hawkish policy and neglect of human lives
seems to be a consistent pattern of this administration. From the
macro-economic measures which pander to the big business at the cost of
increasing poverty, to the unwillingness to deal with the proliferation
of hate speech in the civil society, people’s wish to live in peace and
stability is increasingly dismissed by the administration’s policies.

The enemy unites us. Too often, Abe disregards public opinion against
his ill-conceived proposals and does not even hesitate to sidestep
democratic parliamentary procedures to advance policies representing the
interests of the powerful and the rich. In this circumstance, it has
become evident to the organizers working with different issues in our
society, such as nuclear power plants, collective defense,
constitutional amendments, US base in Okinawa, State Secrecy Law, TPP,
consumption tax, welfare, labor, and agriculture, that none of these
issues can be handled democratically without ousting Prime Minister Abe
from office.

With the municipal elections in April coming up close, it is high time
we deliver the Abe administration a strong and clear message that we
will not take it anymore. We must reclaim our democracy from those who
dismiss people’s voice. On March 22nd, in Hibiya, let us be a massive
crowd and tell Shinzo Abe that his clique of dictatorial aspirations
does not represent us because we are a democracy.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Our Wishes (1970)

"The Things We Desire" or "Our Wishes" is a song by Nobuyasu Okabayashi from July, 1970. It is also about what we do not want.
We do not wish to live and suffer, what we wish is to live to enjoy...
We do not wish to live for the sake of society, what we wish is a society, for us...
We do not wish to be awarded, what we wish is to grab it by ourselves...
We do not wish to kill you, what we wish is to live together with you
Not for the unhappiness we feel, but for the joy yet to come...

Here are two versions:

Live, with his band, Happy End:



Wednesday, March 11, 2015

What Have They Done To The Rain (1964)

50 years ago, nuclear bombs were still being tested in the atmosphere, but increasingly, the concern about the radiation fallout ended that horrible practice. 50 years later we still have a few countries that won't give up their nuclear arsenal, and others (including Japan and South Korea) hiding under the so-called nuclear umbrella. Others, like Sweden and South Africa, briefly considered going nuclear, in order to stay independent, as sovereign states. In most - if not  all- the countries that produced nuclear weapons, those are now getting very old and dangerous - and obsolete. Meanwhile nuclear power remains the big question mark for mankind. We need to more clearly see the links between nuclear power and nuclear weapons.

Here is a wonderful song from 1964, by the UK band The Searchers. Song originally written by Malvina Reynolds, and later also recorded by Joan Baez. Here in Japan, the initial contamination from the Fukushima nuclear reactor meltdowns spread through rain in March, 2011. Time for a new generation of bands and singers to step up the call for peace on earth?

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Organic Agriculture Conference in Tokyo, GMO Free Zone Meeting In Kumamoto, Osaka Action Meeting Against Takahama Nuclear Plant...

Care for healthy food and want to join the discussion how to make it better, here in Japan...

Busy weekend!

How about joining the Japan Organic Agriculture Association conference in Tokyo this weekend? JOAA is the oldest organic group in Japan, founded in 1970. They are known abroad for their work promoting teikei, which is a system to connect farmers and consumers. While similar schemes have evolved in other countries, like the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) trend, teikei is about more - how agriculture can support communities.

I will speak in a panel on Sunday March 8, but there is a lot to do and enjoy during the 2 days, including films and seminars by Japanese organic farmers and experts. For more, check out the JOAA website about teikei (E) and details about the conference (J) on March 7-8, 2015 at the Kokugakuin University in Shibuya. Tema: Healthy food and soil for our children.

If you are in Kumamoto, you can attend the GMO Free Zone Meeting on Saturday March 7. This is the 10th such event and everyone in Kyushu will be there. Last year's meeting was in Tochigi prefecture, and the movement is just getting bigger. From 13:30 - 17:00 at the Aso Villa Park Hotel. Details here (J) and here (J).

This is part of a huge global trend to focus on farmers' rights and to support consumers who do not want genetically modified organisms (GMO) if they learn what it entails. Green Co-op and other Kyushu groups join the No! GMO Campaign and Consumers Union of Japan, and many others, while corporations like Ajinomoto are involved in GM research. Read more in English over at the GMO-Free Regions Website (E).

And if you are in Kansai, you can join the Osaka meeting (and live & parade) to protest against the controversial Takahama Nuclear Plant on March 8, at the Kita-ku Civic Center from 10:00.More info over at Genpatsu Zero no Kai Osaka (J).

Takahama is slated for using MOX fuel that contains 7% plutonium, but all four reactors are currently idle. The Kansai Action group opposes the restart. Sayonara!

Read more about Takahama on the Green Action website (E).

There is citizen protest against restart of the Fukui Prefecture reactors. Fukui Prefecture citizens are petitioning to stop restart of all the nuclear reactors and Kansai area residents are addressing evacuation, seismic, severe accident and other issues.