On August 6, 2011, an anti-nuclear demonstration took place in the shopping district of Ginza, Tokyo. It was the forth big demonstration since March 11. Like the past ones, it gathered thousands of people, bands and artists were performing, and politicians and celebrities came and appealed to the people. Still, after the last demonstration in Shinjuku on June 6, 2011, with more than 20,000 people participating that time, it felt a little different that weekend. What happened?

This time a lot less people participated, and the atmosphere was not as festive as before. All in all, it felt a bit ‘smaller’ than usual. There could be several reasons for that. Some say it was because of the month, because of the heat, because of the place it took place at – Ginza with its high fashion shops like Louis Vuitton or Chanel is not really the right spot to hold a demonstration. It would have been a nice contrast, of course. But it just didn’t work out somehow. The usual Ginza-inhabitants (rich people), who were by-standing and watching the demo, didn’t really seem to understand what was going on, nor did they seem to be very interested in the issue… A different point was the official letter to the protest organizers written by the most prominent Ginza shop owners: they stated that they didn’t want people marching in ‘their’ district, because it would annoy ‘their’ customers. In this letter they pointed out very clearly that they wanted to keep people away on this very day in August.

But there is another issue that kept people away that day. And that very issue never became more obvious than on this day. In our documentary, we tried to point out that is still very difficult for Japanese people to go out on the streets and voice their opinions freely. Keisuke Narita said that,

the police can easily make arrests in such a peaceful demonstration. This is one of the reasons why many people still hesitate to take part in demonstrations. […] The police don’t like that people are becoming increasingly active and expressing their political opinions.

On August 6, many participants got really angry because of the behavior of the police. They acted very repressive, forcing people in little groups that were easily controllable. You weren’t allowed to enter or leave the demonstration as you wanted. There were just far too many policemen accompanying the participants, leading them like cattle through the city.

That is why I started filming the police and their behavior. In the short video you can see how the police was acting that day: They were forcing the participants into small groups, not allowing them to leave or enter the demonstration again. They considered the smooth flow of traffic more important than the flow of the demonstration. You can see some of the organizers begging the police to start the demonstration. You can see the police monitoring and filming the participants of the demonstration. Moreover, you can see that a few of the participants were getting really angry because of this behavior, but they always kept it down to a verbal argument.

You can watch the video here:

The behavior of the police is not acceptable. Japanese people deserve to be able to demonstrate freely against nuclear power. In order to do so in the future, we have to keep an eye on the police’s behavior and make this a topic of discussion.

  1. Thx for putting this up, Julia.
    It’s a shame that the police is acting as if the demonstrators were cattle.
    I totally agree with the people complaining to the officers about their behaviour.

    I’ll spread this,so more ppl will see it.
    This is a thing that needs to get public attention.