In the last few months, Japanese people have been holding demonstrations every Friday night in front of the Prime Minister’s official residence. In what has become known as the Ajisai (Hydrangea) movement, people in Japan are protesting restarting of the Oi Nuclear Plant, and nuclear energy in general.
In Sydney, we're planning to hold a solidarity event on Friday October 26, outside the Japanese Consulate in the city from 6 to 8pm. Check out the details and RSVP on the Facebook event: www.facebook.com/events/345033162258610/
We want to show our support for the tens of thousands of Japanese people who gather every Friday night, speaking out against the reactivation and construction of nuclear power stations around Japan – and to oppose the export of Australian uranium.
Check out this great blog on the Hydrangea movement (some excerpts below): www.dianuke.org/the-accidental-protester-hydrangea-fridays-continue-in-japan/
6 pm. The protest begins. A little hesitant at first, like an orchestra tuning its instruments, the voices in the crowd soon find one another and unite in the common, familiar rhythm that will continue for the next two hours. I’m shouting like the best of them, my voice surprisingly loud for the soft-spoken person I am. We know our lines well. They’re embedded in our souls and carried in our hearts.
6.30 pm. The atmosphere is positive and peaceful, almost festive. A middle-aged office worker arrives, still in his business suit. He takes out a self-made banner from his briefcase: a couple of sheets of A4-sized copy paper which he has stapled together. On the banner, an anti-nuclear slogan carefully written out in typical white board colors: blue, red and black. I imagine that perhaps only this afternoon, on the spur of the moment, he decided to join today’s protest. Wanting to contribute something, he put together what he could with the limited materials on hand.
I’m moved by his action. People like him inspire me, remind me why I am here. As does the 93-year old man who never misses a Friday, and the foreign nun I spot later that evening, holding her anti-nuke banner up high in the air, talking in between her devoted shouts with everyone around her. Or the blind couple who keep coming back week after week. In fact, I salute every single person at the protest, first-timers and veterans alike, each one of them showing up because they have something to say and because they believe their presence matters.
If we don’t come out to be seen and heard, we won’t be noticed. If we remain silent, we will not be counted. But we will be just as accountable: keeping quiet will determine our future just as much as will speaking up.
The Friday protests are making a difference in the anti-nuclear movement as a whole. In between the large demonstrations, supporters keep the momentum going, and encourage everyday people, whenever they’re ready, to find their voice and to speak up: to vent their anger, and express their desires and hope.
These are indeed revolutionary times in Japan, nothing less than a movement of awakening. The anti-nuclear demonstrations are altering the country’s political landscape. Media is no longer ignoring the protests. Following recent public hearings on future energy policy, the government was even forced to acknowledge that most Japanese now want to phase out nuclear energy to zero.
The once silent majority is not so silent anymore. People are becoming aware of the total costs of electricity. The price of Fukushima is too high. Few people believe that in earthquake-prone Japan accidents like Fukushima cannot happen again. Many, if not most people are now deeply distrustful of government, nuclear bodies and plant operators.