Sep 112011
 



 
Today it was exactly 6 months after the big 2011 Tōhoku earthquake hit Japan. The most serious long-time effect of this natural disaster was the nuclear meltdown in the Fukushima Daiichi power plant. Damaging several reactors beyond repair, releasing a large amount of radiation and forcing the evacuation of tens of thousands of people, this catastrophe is severely affecting the Japanese psyche and everyday life. For example, while food from the Fukushima prefecture is still being sold in supermarkets and normal life goes on outside of the 30km evacuation zone, some people start to wonder about the reactions of the Japanese national government and local authorities. Few even question the official information policies and urge the government to protect their children from radiation leaking from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant.

However, taking to the streets is still an extremely unusual stance and reserved for political fringe types. Demanding answers about nuclear safety issues and openly criticizing the authorities in the form of a public rally does not draw big crowds. Even in the metropolis of Tokyo the “9.11 Shinjuku Stop Nuclear Power protest!” (9.11 新宿・原発やめろデモ) was rather lightly attended, I guess about 1500-2500 people showed up. The demo route was through the busy Sunday shopping frenzy in Shinjuku. A large number of police kept the protesters in line, although incidents did happen and arrests were made.

An anti-nuke activist desperately tries to keep the police from arresting him.
An anti-nuke activist desperately tries to keep the police from arresting him.
Although without any real riot gear, the work of the police was only interrupted by shouting.
Although without any real riot gear, the work of the police was only interrupted by shouting.
Japanese policemen finally arrest the exhausted anti-nuclear protester.
Japanese policemen finally arrest the exhausted anti-nuclear protester.
Another tense situation at the 'Stop Nuclear Power!' demo in Shinjuku.
Another tense situation at the 'Stop Nuclear Power!' demo in Shinjuku.
Protesters struggle against policemen to avoid another arrest in Shinjuku.
Protesters struggle against policemen to avoid another arrest in Shinjuku.
Japanese policemen and anti-nuclear protesters clash in Shinjuku six months after Fukushima.
Japanese policemen and anti-nuclear protesters clash in Shinjuku six months after Fukushima.
Japanese policemen forming lines to to contain the rally on its route.
Japanese policemen forming lines to to contain the rally on its route.
The angry protesters were pretty aggressive and loud, but did not physically attack the police officers.
The angry protesters were pretty aggressive and loud, but did not physically attack the police officers.
The police is busy trying to herd the anti-nuclear power demonstrators in Shinjuku.
The police is busy trying to herd the anti-nuclear power demonstrators in Shinjuku.
'Do not buy from the manufacturers of nuclear power plants Mitsubishi, Toshiba, Hitachi!' (原子プラントメーカー - 三菱、東芝、日立 - 絶対買わにゃい!).
'Do not buy from the manufacturers of nuclear power plants Mitsubishi, Toshiba, Hitachi!' (原子プラントメーカー - 三菱、東芝、日立 - 絶対買わにゃい!).
A masked woman protesting next to a banner at the 'Stop Nuclear Power' demo in Shinjuku.
A masked woman protesting next to a banner at the 'Stop Nuclear Power' demo in Shinjuku.
Public anti-nuclear protests are still an mostly extreme leftist issue in Japan, as these punk activists show.
Public anti-nuclear protests are still an mostly extreme leftist issue in Japan, as these punk activists show.
The demonstration was accompanied by a 'sound car' with punk bands playing anti-nuke songs.
The demonstration was accompanied by a 'sound car' with punk bands playing anti-nuke songs.
The 'Stop Nuclear Power' protest march on the Yasukuni-dōri in Shinjuku.
The 'Stop Nuclear Power' protest march on the Yasukuni-dōri in Shinjuku.
A Japanese man injured by the police still determined to continue protesting.
A Japanese man injured by the police still determined to continue protesting.
 Posted by at 20:42
Jun 062010
 



 
Like any modern democracy, Japan has its fair share of political fringe parties. On my return from Shibuya I came across the loudspeaking truck of the so-called “Happiness Realization Party” (幸福実現党). While the name sounds characteristically Japanese cute, they are actually the political front of a cult-like spiritual movement. Their goals are a mixture of very agreeable policies for Japan’s future, jingoist fear mongering about North Korea and the “Happy Science” religious doctrines and donations acquiring.

 Posted by at 19:10
May 032010
 



 
Despite being not a bicycle-friendly city, there are more than enough cyclists in Tokyo, which means that there are many bicycles here with little space to park them. So around the bigger train stations there are dedicated areas for bicycle parking. This picture was taken at the underpass at the JR Shibuya station and it shows bicycles parked in their parking clamps. Also note the narrow bicycle lane and the homeless colony on the opposite side.

 Posted by at 20:20
May 032010
 



 
Now this is individualism in Japan! Not only has someone bought a foreign car (instead one from a trusted Japanese manufacturer), it also is a real vintage oldtimer. On top of it all the color is shocking pink. But apparently the owner has had some problems with it… or did some mischievous neighbor smash in that side window…?

 Posted by at 18:14