In this and the following posts we would like to inroduce you to the people we interviewed during May 2011. All in all we did about ten interviews, and you are about to meet the first three voices of Radioactivists: Hajime Matsumoto and Chigaya Kinoshita.

“I believe Japan is going to change. It must. A sense of values has been undermined. The people who have long trusted the government and the mass media don’t know what to do now. Many appear to be thinking that we should not only rebuild the disaster area, but Japan as a whole, on our own, from scratch. I want to scrap all the shitty stuff first.”

Activist and Head of Shirôto no ran (“Revolt of the Amateurs”)

Hajime Matsumoto is a rare sight in Japan. Since his time at university he has been politically engaged and in 2004 he founded Shirôto no ran, the “Revolt of the Amateurs” in Kôenji, Tokyo, and they opened one shop after another, including second hand and recycle shops, vegan cafes and bars for people to meet and discuss the stuff they are interested in. In doing so he and his friends created a lively neighborhood, where people are free to express themselves. It is all about D.I.Y.-culture and gaining independence of social norms.
In these days, since 3/11, the people around Hajime Matsumoto are organizing the most tremendous demonstrations Tokyo has seen since the 1970s. More than 15.000 people usually join those anti-nuclear rallies. It has become quite a social phenomenon in a place that isn’t famous for its active street protest culture. But maybe the time has finally come to change now.

“We can formulate a question from our experience. What the international media call Japanese stoicism and conformism, may have something to do with two things: one is that we did not know what to do; the other is a problem of Japanese society itself. For instance, yesterday [May 7th, Anti-Nuke-Demo in Shibuya] many people were marching against nuclear power plants. Indeed, a rally like this or the rally of April 10th in Kôenji has not taken place for 2 or 3 decades in Japan. Something in Japanese society that used to allow the people to open their mouth, or to claim their rights was lost at some point. I am convinced that what is called ‘Japanese conformism’ stems from the society’s structure in itself.”

Political Scientist
Chigaya Kinoshita is a well-known political scientist working in Tokyo. Recently he has been teaching about nuclear power issues at the Kôgakuin University, and he publishes articles about his theories on the current situation in Japan in the online journal J-Fissures: see Dystopia of Civil Society Part 1 and Part 2.


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