by Ewa Nowogorski
If you think of the word protest, many European countries like France and Germany, and America may also come to mind. Japan is certainly not a place where you would think that protests exist. Afterall, this society values peace and harmony above all else, and to hold a public protest would directly go against that. However, they do exist, although they are never as intense as the protests that occur in other places.
A lot of protests occur against the government’s self-defense/military policies and its use of nuclear power, whether it be for energy plants or for weapon building.
Protests in Japan are heavily regulated and very organized. There are some rules that need to be followed when protesting on the streets, which make them so. The police will always be present in protests, and protests that directly fight against the Abe administration would often have undercover officers as well, to control the crowds from within. People must also get permission to protest against something and in certain places. This is true of protests against companies. One would have to get permission from the CEO of a company in order to protest against it, which sounds very ridiculous.
Noise pollution is something that is taken into consideration when allowing protests to occur as well. Since the crowded infrastructure of japan’s busy cities is not well sound-proofed, noise from a rowdy crowd can easily interfere with the productivity of the area the protest is in.
Police are always present to control almost every aspect of the protest, which often makes them difficult to be heard.
Public protest in Japan is arguably most visible in Okinawa, where a strong anti-base movement is using both traditional methods and modern means to block the construction of a replacement facility for U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma. For nearly two decades — and despite the efforts of nearly a dozen prime ministers and three U.S. presidents — the new offshore runway facility off the waters of Camp Schwab, on the northern end of the main island in Nago’s Henoko district, has yet to be built.