Today is April 10, 2012. Exactly one year ago, something happened in Japan that would shake up its society to the core: On April 10, 2011, the biggest grassroots-demonstration since the 1970s took place in Tokyo. With more than 15,000 participants, the “Genpatsu Yamero Demo” marked a historical turning point in Japanese postwar history.

A group called ‘Amateurs’ revolt’ (in Japanese: Shiroto no ran) organized this demonstration shortly after the nuclear power plant accident in Fukushima on March 11, 2011. They have been organizing demonstrations in Tokyo since 2004, and after 3.11 they decided to protest against the government, the nuclear agency and TEPCO. When they announced the demonstration, they expected the turnout to be around 500 participants. No one expected that on the day 15,000 would show up. It was exciting for everyone involved to see such a mass of people protesting and voicing their anger about the biggest manmade catastrophe in Japan’s history: not only long-term activists, but families with children, punks, subcultures, young and old people, foreigners living in Tokyo… It was the spirit of this moment to change a hole society and to abandon all nuclear power plants as soon as possible. But what happened in Japan since this first major demonstration? How did this emerging protest movement continue to develop?

On our blog, we tried to follow the anti-nuclear movement over the past year. The Amateurs’ revolt continued to organize a anti-nuclear demonstration every month from April on: in May, June, August, September… On September 19, 2012, they joined forces with every anti-nuclear group and organization in Japan and performed the biggest success so far with more than 60,000 people participating in an outstanding demonstration with a lot of media coverage in Japan as well as internationally. On the other hand, the police forces became more and more aggressive over the summer, resulting in an arrest of 13 people (including some of the organizers) on that day and holding them back in prison for up to 23 days.

It came as a shock for the amateurs’ revolt. They felt responsible for getting their friends arrested and decided that it was not worth risking more people to get arrested, so they temporarily stopped to take the leading role in organizing the anti-nuclear demonstrations in Tokyo.

Other people soon started to fill that empty space, for example No Nukes More Hearts, Tanpopo, Drums of Fury… it seemed that more and more organizations entered the stage, and the demonstrations were a bit smaller, but all in all the number of demos increased rapidly, not only in Tokyo, but all over the country. We reported about some of them on our blog: here, here, and here.

In the last couple of months, we saw huge protest events with several thousands of people happening to commemorate the first year anniversary of 3.11, and we heard that by now 53 out of 54 reactors in Japan are stopped – sure it is not an official government’s decision yet, but we are sure that hundreds of demonstrations, ten thousands of participants and more than 70% of the Japanese society being against nuclear power plants now is a huge argument that cannot be ignored by the Japanese politicians after all.

If you had asked anybody at the demonstration at April 10 one year ago, I guess that nobody would have expected this development. But it is still no time to rest, and nothing is certain yet. We have to continue to protest, to discuss it, to talk about it and bring the issue up in the media. One year after, we are still excited about how this will continue, just like after the first demonstration…


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