“Occupy Wall Street,” the protest originating on Wall Street in New York City, is now expanding to other countries. Tokyo will be holding its first Occupy Tokyo protest on October 15th.
Building on local concerns
The Occupy Tokyo protest is building upon local concerns such as the government’s supposedly poor handling of the nuclear disaster, the high unemployment rate for Japanese standards (4.3% last August), rapidly changing leadership, among many other things.
Protesting in Japan became more prevalent starting last spring after the March 11th disaster. The direct cause has been the nuclear power issue: its dangers and the seemingly insufficient regulation from the government. The fact that the utility company in charge of the power plants in Fukushima is still surviving despite the fact that many are even currently suffering from the meltdown has created the appearance of government favoritism of business over the civilians, analogously to financial institutions in the United States.
From a longer perspective, dissatisfaction and unrest has been building up in Japan due to the economic effects of the Lehman Shock. Shoko Uchida, one of the organizers of the Occupy Tokyo protest, states with regards to increasing unemployment: “It’s become increasingly difficult to live in Japan… and that has become more apparent in society.”
Will it succeed?
Unlike the American protest, Occupy Tokyo appears unlikely to be successful. The efforts to organize under the banner of “Occupy Tokyo” began in late September. With only a couple of weeks to gather supporters and a name for the protest which doesn’t really strike a chord with Japanese concerns, a strong turnout on October 15th is difficult to imagine. Furthermore, even in the long run, the movement faces fundamental issues such as the fact that organized protest is a rare feature of Japan’s political landscape and there exist few issues that the general public feels strongly enough about.
Whether Occupy Tokyo ends up successful or not, Japan’s protesting landscape appears to be getting more eventful. You can keep up with Occupy Tokyo at the following websites.
Pacific Asia Resource Center (English) http://en.parc-jp.org:8080/en/
Pacific Asia Resource Center (Japanese) http://www.parc-jp.org/
Occupy Tokyo http://occupytokyo.org/en/
Occupy Tokyo on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/OccupyTokyo