The Street Politics Of The 3.11 Disaster

Friday, July 18, 2014: 3:30 PM
Room: 418
Oral Presentation
Robin O'DAY , University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI
In the weeks and months after the Tohoku disaster on March 11, 2011, tens of thousands of people took to the streets in Japan to protest and voice their concerns about the government’s role in exacerbating the crisis.  Of particular focus within these protests were the perceived mishandling of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident, and the broader dangers associated with relying on nuclear energy.  These protests were significant since they were some of the largest street protest to occur in Japan since the 1960s and 1970s when hundreds of thousands took to the streets of Tokyo to oppose the revisions of the US-Japan Security Treaty (AMPO).  How should scholars, therefore, interpret and explain the recent anti-nuclear street protests within a broader perspective on popular forms of political dissent in Japan?  What can these protests tell us about the nature of civil society in Japan?  How did such a catastrophic event affect civil society groups already engaged in different social struggles?  In an effort to help answer these questions, this paper approaches these questions ethnographically from the perspectives of different Japanese activists that were organizing public protests around irregular employment and growing economic inequalities before the disaster.  What role did these groups play in the post-3.11 protests?  How did they shape the street politics of the 3.11 crisis?  Conversely, how did the crisis shape their politics?