Yesterday, I was in Osaka to commemorate Japan Meltdown Day, March 11. My plan was to join one of the protest events organized that day and which none of the English language newspapers mentioned. If you looked up Osaka in the news, you would probably hit some story about sumo. Some Japanese newspapers started to report more accurately the disastrous situation in which Japan is getting deeper everyday. However, their focus remains the No Man’s Land, i.e. Tokyo and North-East Japan, which incidentally is the raison d’etre of SurvivalJapan. Besides, this defiant attitude costs them to lose access to the government press club and a Japanese journalist friend of mine told me that this particular newspaper was on the verge of bankruptcy. This is Japan, not Singapore, but the press is not free to speak. It is a concern if the only newspaper that tries to speak out is about to shut down.
So I arrived late for events in Osaka yesterday and missed them. Ten thousands people were to gather in the morning at the large hall of the City Hall on Nakanoshima isle. In the afternoon, protesters marched along one of three different paths converging towards KEPCO headquarters, Midosuji and Nishi-Umeda. A foreign friend of mine who attended told me that the crowd was lively and angry at the government and utilities yet very friendly and enjoying themselves. Japanese information on this “Bye Bye Gempatsu (Nuclear Power) 3/11 Kansai 10,000 Protesters Event” is available on this website. I walked alone from Umeda to Nakanoshima Park and all trace of the meeting of 10,000 had disappeared.
I was hoping to catch up with the “humanError national 100,000 participants parade” after the incredibly spot-on recording by the Frying Dutchman near Kamogawa river and Sanjo St. in Kyoto, a group of Japanese artists. They show that not every Japanese youth is self-centered and disconnected from reality, they are the future of Japan if this country solidifies again – and if yakuza don’t kill them. Frying Dutchman sees right through the enemies of Japan and their non-violent message is ultimately about love. They were touring in Okinawa yesterday but were followed all over the country. Their website is available in English here and you can watch their video with English subtitles. Frying Dutchman’s message resonates so strongly in our hearts that it is impossible to watch without tears in our eyes, for us who live through this never-ending disaster. The video has been seen by more than 150,000 viewers on YouTube alone as of writing and is fast becoming viral. I am sad because I know that most people who have not experienced living in melted down Japan will not understand. Actually most of the foreigners still living in Japan chose to close their eyes and ears to their environment: it is so easy to ignore the evil spirit which now inhabits every bit of Japan. It will take the same human error again and again, in each country, like blind earthworms hit the electric wire time and again without understanding, until we are all burnt and eventually get a hint.
In the cold squall I walked along the polluted river under the glass eyes of a thousand surveillance cameras and eventually met with my journalist friend for drinks in a hotel bar with view over the darkened city forever winking back at me with its red eyes. We discussed about our dying friend, Japan, and its long disease of corruption finally taking its toll. We talked about the dead men walking. Yet, as we commemorated the loss of Japan with our bitter sense of powerlessness and sharp knowledge of the sick organs to remove without delay, we ate contaminated food. Osaka is terrible as it serves food from irradiated areas without second thoughts – and it will probably incinerate radioactive waste soon, regardless of citizens’ opposition – at least those who actually care.
Today as I write these lines I feel depressed that we know and we care, yet we behave like everyone else in this context. If we stay here we will die with everybody else in a few years – but everybody is our friends and our families. If we go, we may die younger from cancer induced by the nuclear industry in another country.
Independent reporter James Corbett covered the event on video on his news blog: