Not that you’d know it from any domestic media but there was a 5000 strong anti nuclear protest in the very heart of Tokyo on Saturday 7th May 2011.
Due perhaps to the weather (gray and rainy) or perhaps to the fact that the protest movement in Japan, despite recent premature talk of a “Sakura Revolution”, is little more than a passing fad it was much smaller than the Koenji demonstration a month ago and most of the protesters seemed to be there for nothing more than a day out.
The police presence was huge, both uniform grunts and shady plain clothes officers (Kempeitai anyone?) who filmed and photographed everyone of the “protesters” for their data bases.
To give the police credit though, they managed to break up the sizeable crowd into much smaller groups as soon as they left Yoyogi park with no resistance to this cynical ploy to make the demonstration look smaller to onlookers.
Any resistance to the police’s agenda of where and exactly in what size groups the “protestors” were going to go was met with the customary strong arm and questionably legal physicality we have come to know and love from the police.(to be fair to the Japanese keystone cops they have learnt this lesson well from other police forces around the world)
The protestors seemed to be offering no alternatives to the Nuclear power they were protesting against and in the light of recent events one is tempted to feel it’s far too little far too late.
It’s amazing to see that many people out protesting who are not ultra rightists ( the ‘no nuke’ crowd could learn a thing or two about protesting from their dark side brothers in the Uyoku Dantai) but their over polite attitude to the police’s co-opting of their demo and the usual Japanese problem of a glittery dressed up surface with little or no substance needs to be seriously addressed if they ever want to affect any real social change with their little djembe fueled get togethers.
Not even close and definitely no cigar.
And so some pictures:-