Kenzaburo Oe (2nd from left) and Yamamoto Taro(right) lead the 19th September Anti-Nuclear march as it leaves Meiji park in Tokyo
The scenes that started in Meiji park around midday yesterday and continued through the day as a 50,000 people strong crowd, led by Kenzaburo Oe (winner of the Nobel prize for literature in 1994) marched through the streets of Tokyo to protest Nuclear power are quite simply the most impressive thing I have ever seen in Japan.
The exact numbers in the crowd are in dispute (Police-29,000 , NHK 60,000) but my estimate would be around 50,000. Consisting of a mainly older demographic that is sure to worry the politicians, there was none of the Police violence of last weekend’s much smaller but younger demonstration in Shinjuku and the overall police presence was much smaller.
The “news” portion of the day has (finally!!) been covered in the domestic media as well as extensively in the international media and I don’t have much to add. However on a personal note the feeling and the sight of all the tens of thousands of people gathered in Meiji park was amazing. It was the first time I have ever felt like change was truly possible in Japan. Even the police’s cynical breaking up of the march into much smaller groups did little to dent the impact (though maybe the feeling) of the march.
I am impressed, genuinely impressed.
Thank you to yesterday’s protesters for, if not restoring my faith completely, then at least giving me hope.