Category Archives: Protest

Please Support EMA Japan’s Campaign for Same-Sex Marriage Rights & Sign their Petition!

emaLast week the good people at Japan Today were kind enough to publish a profile piece I wrote on the Equal Marriage Alliance of Japan (EMA Japan for short). Founded in February of this year, EMA Japan is the only NPO advocating solely for legal same-sex marriages in Japan. Unfortunately, same-sex marriage is still illegal in Japan, so EMA are running a petition that aims to put pressure on politicians of all parties to support a change in the law.

I would urge you to sign that petition: LINK.

My article was the result of a lengthy interview with EMA’s President Kazu Terada, and Vice President Jeffrey Trambley. In the finished piece I tried to emphasize how denying a minority of people their spousal rights impacts negatively both practically and profoundly both on individual lives and on society at large. Here is a clip :

…the spousal rights denied to same-sex couples are many. To name but a few, same-sex couples cannot benefit from the tax deductions and inheritance rights that are due to married couples. They cannot apply for joint housing loans. In a medical emergency, a same-sex partner cannot make decisions on behalf of their loved one, and perhaps most upsetting of all, in the event of death, a same-sex partner has no legal entitlement to attend the funeral.

But beyond these legal rights and benefits, Terada believes that marriage equality would bring social validation to the whole LGBT community. “The social meaning of the right to marry could be the most important benefit. When legal discrimination ended in Denmark, society became much more open. There were fewer instances of bullying in schools because the new law sent a message of tolerance and acceptance. Parents of those with homosexual children didn’t have to worry about their future. They could be confident that their children would be treated fairly before society and the law.”

Trambley adds, “I think of closeted people working in Japanese companies and those that cannot come out to their families. It’s hard for them that they can’t be themselves. Even if a person doesn’t want to get married, to have an easier time being yourself in society, this is a major benefit of marriage equality.”

You can read the full article here: New NPO brings same-sex marriage equality into Japanese public debate.

My interview with Kazu and Jeffrey covered a lot of ground, but of course I was not able to include everything within the parameters of the Japan Today article. On a blog though, you can do what you like. So here is part of our original conversation, where we discuss how the lack of overt discrimination in Japan, paradoxically leads to a lack of action on LGBT rights…


DK: How much of the opposition to same sex marriage is tied in with traditional ideas about marriage and family?

KAZU: The situation in Japan is that we don’t see so much opposition to the idea of same sex marriage. The problem is more indifference. The problem is not staunch opposition per se, but the intrinsic indifference in society.

DK: Do you think a lack of outright discrimination against the LGBT community, has also led to a lack of awareness about the legal issues facing same sex couples?

KAZU: Yes, absolutely. And this is why European countries were able to achieve same sex marriage earlier. Because of outright discrimination, like Stonewall in New York in the 1969 and other cases of discrimination in Denmark in 1973, the LGBT communities were moved to action.

JEFFREY: So without a galvanizing event, it is a challenge to get people to think about the issue seriously and educate, not only the LGBT community, but society at large, that inequalities exist.

DK: Much of the Japanese media seems to treat gay identity as a source of amusement. Do you think this has helped to create an atmosphere of indifference? How should this change and what role should the media play in the future?

JEFFREY: The popularity of such celebrities such as Matsuko Deluxe shows that the media generally accepts sexual minorities only in a humorous way. Unfortunately, the existence of such celebrities and talento can lead some to assume that all gay men like to dress up as women, whereas this is a very small minority. The media does not highlight the more mainstream gay or lesbian members. Rather than indifference, the media has created a mistaken image of the LGBT community.

KAZU: First, the media itself should take up more mainstream gay and lesbian people in their stories – present a more balanced image of LGBT members of society, not just the comic portrayals. If you look at the dramas in the US and UK these days, there is more diversity in casts, often including gay, lesbians and transgender roles, portrayed in a realistic way.

JEFFREY: Yes, the diversity in American dramas and sitcoms has grown tremendously in recent years. A recent Amazon TV drama called Transparent, features the story of a transgender man in his 50s how he came out to his adult children and wife. This kind of story at present does not exist in the Japanese media portfolio. In America, the buzzword of diversity is everywhere, especially in the major networks. Americans want to see TV that reflects the society in which they live. In Japan, LGBT members exist in society, but they are as of yet not represented on the TV we watch here, other than these caricatures that are presently shown.

DK: How much popular and political support is there for marriage equality?

KAZU: We have been pleasantly surprised to find many politicians quite supportive of equal marriage. In fact, EMA has met with several prominent politicians in both the ruling and opposition parties and progress is being made towards bringing the issue forward in the Diet. The opposition parties, especially the liberal-leaning DPJ (Democratic Party of Japan), are beginning to see that in order to get back into power, supporting a platform of diversity including marriage equality, could be vital to facilitating their return to power.

JEFFREY: With the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics in 2020, Japan should strive to be a leader in human rights in Asia. We see the marriage equality issue as a human rights one. The Olympics and Paralympics are a huge opportunity for Japan to create a legacy of openness and acceptance. Especially after the negative press Russian received when its anti-gay laws were put into force, Japan should see the 2020 games as a chance to show the world the true meaning of omotenashi.


I believe that in a fair and just society people should be allowed to live with and legally marry whoever they love, regardless of their gender. Denying people the legal right to marry is a form of discrimination, and an insidious one that has far-reaching effects on our society and in some ways harms us all.  Please add your voice to the EMA Japan petition here:

You can also find EMA Japan at the following links. Sign up, spread the word and don’t be indifferent.

REBELDOM 31st EDITION 〜尊芯塾 × DAM (from Palestine) @ Club Metro

This event at Club Metro on Thursday October 9th features the award-winning Slingshot Hip Hop film, a short discussion about current conditions in Gaza & the West Bank, and a rocking live performance by DAM, Palestine’s first and foremost hiphop group.
RebeldomDate: Thursday October 9th 2014
Part 1

19:00: Doors Open
19:30 Movie: Slingshot Hip Hop
21:00 -21:30: Discussion

Part 2
REBEL SOUNDS:DAM (from Palestine) / RITTO (from 琉球) / 志人 / STINKY SCIZA (BONG BROS.) / DR.HASEGAWA
/ DJ PLANT (尊芯塾)

Tickets for Part 1 OR Part 2: 2000 yen for advance tickets / 2500 yen on the door
Tickets for Part 1 AND Part 2: 3000 yen
All tickets include one drink.
Order advance tickets here: ticket[at]
Access: Club Metro sits beside the Kamo river on Kawabata Dori, below cafe etw and above Marutamachi Station. Take Exit 2 from the station to find it. Here is a map:
Check this page for details:

Rebeldom reverse

Ant-Nuclear Protest Demo & March in Kyoto; Saturday March 8th

“No one can guarantee the safety of nuclear power stations in an earthquake-prone country. They are unnecessary and have proved to be a disaster. Demonstrate this Saturday in Kyoto against the prospect of nuclear restart? The march begins around 2:45 from Maruyama Park.” – Stephen Gill

no nukes

Date: Saturday 8th March 2014
Place: Maruyama Park
Schedule: From 12:00 pm  – “Free Action” – A kind of mini-festival by the famous weeping cherry tree of Maruyama Park with art, goods, possibly some cosplay (!) & various performances.
1.00 pm – People will begin to gather for the main demonstration at the outdoor stage in Maruyma Park
1.30 – 2:45 – Speeches by representatives of various groups representing Fukushima refugees, Fukushima children and those taking legal action on behalf of Fukushima residents.
+ a performance from protest schoolgirl group, 制服向上委員会 (Uniform Advancement Committee?)
*After all the speeches and performances are finished there will be a march as far as Kyoto City Hall.
Please check this site for details of this event in Japanese:

As for the girl group, I think I prefer punk for protest music myself, but this being Japan, there is no escaping the endless “kawaii”… The song is called ダッ!ダッ!脱・原発の歌 which means “Abandon! Abandon! Abandon Nuclear Power Song”.

Anti-Nuclear Rally, Maruyama Park, Kyoto – Saturday March 9th 2013

The only Japanese nuclear power station to have been restarted since the nuclear disaster of March 2011 is the one at Oi in Fukui, just 60km from Kyoto and only 30km from our drinking water supply, Lake Biwa. (Stephen Gill)

Bye Bye Genpatsu - 2013.3.9 Maruyama Park, Kyoto

There will be a big anti-nuclear rally at Maruyama Park this Saturday (March 9th). As usual with these events it looks very much like it will have a festival feel. People will gather for speeches, performances etc from 12. The main rally is at 1.30 and the march commences at 14.45. Details (Japanese only) at this site:

Thanks to Aileen Mioko Smith of Green Action Japan for sharing this news.

Of related interest are these recent articles from Fresh Currents writers Winifred Bird and David McNeil.

Winifred Bird, has recently published two new articles with her colleague Jane Braxton Little on the contaminated forests of Chernobyl and Fukushima. They give a good overview of the likely long-term effects on both ecosystems and the dilemma that local authorities face in how best to manage them. LINK

David McNeil has an excellent interview in the Independent with one of the “Fukushima 50”:

They displayed a bravery few can comprehend, yet very little is known about the men who stayed behind to save Japan’s stricken nuclear plant. In a rare interview, David McNeill meets Atsufumi Yoshizawa, who was at work on 11 March 2011 when disaster struck. LINK

UPDATE (7th March): Stephen Gill informs me that there is a further event on Monday March 11th – the anniversary of the disaster. Demonstrators will gather at the Bic Camera plaza (beside Kyoto station) from 6.30 and march from there at 6.45 twice around the KEPCO offices. So if like me, you can’t make the big event on Saturday, this is your chance to show your solidarity and make some noise.  For an insight into why this issue is still important check out this video: Fukushima: Human Impacts


Please donate to Green Action here:

From Beyond Nuclear:

During the critical first days and months of the Fukushima nuclear
catastrophe in Japan, many of us turned immediately to Aileen Mioko
Smith (pictured far left with Sachiko Sato and Kaori Izumi) and her
organization, Green Action-Japan. Through her depth of knowledge on the
nuclear issue, organizing skills, and essential translations between
English and Japanese, Aileen played a crucial role in globally
networking the U.S. and Japanese anti-nuclear movements.

Today, Green Action-Japan needs your financial help to keep its
important work ongoing.

Without Aileen’s relentless efforts for more than a decade to delay the
use of plutonium (MOX) fuel, the three reactors that melted down at
Fukushima could have been loaded with 33% plutonium cores,
significantly worsening the radiological catastrophe that has unfolded.
(Only Unit 3 had loaded MOX fuel, at a 6% level.) Aileen has also
helped oppose the Rokkasho reprocessing facility and the Monju breeder

Please make a generous donation via Green Action’s Paypal button today.
Green Action-Japan and Aileen Mioko Smith play an essential role in
connecting our campaigns and sharing knowledge, information that will
help us end the Nuclear Age.

Please donate here:
Donation drive can be found at these sites:
Beyond Nuclear



This Friday ~ July 20th ~ Join the Growing Protests Against the Nuclear Restarts

July 16th Anti-nuclear protest march, Kyoto ~ this picture from Stephen Gill.

This picture from Andy Couzens

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to join in Monday’s anti-nuclear march here in Kyoto, but with all the musicians and drummers and the likes of Christopher Fryman blowing on his trumpet it looks like it must have been fun! Here’s the good word from two friends who were there. Stephen Gill writes,

We need more younger people to come and walk against the restart of nuclear power in Kansai. About 300 showed up in 35 degrees heat this afternoon in front of Kyoto Station to try to keep the light of hope alive here in Kyoto. We marched up Karasuma and along Shichijo and then past the Kansai Power Co. Building – twice in all, chanting and drumming. The issue is not just nuclear power, but power politics and vested interests, and if more Japanese people don’t say what they really think, it could end up making a mockery of democracy.

Continue reading

Ohi Nuclear Power Plant ~ Why We Should Be Worried…

Estimated number of people living within 30 kilometers of Fukui’s 14 reactors: 1,249,981
(Fukui Shimbun, Oct. 21, 2011)

Distance from the Ohi reactors to central Kyoto city: 60 kilometers

The following message is from Aileen Mioko Smith of Green Action Japan. Click on the pictures to view a larger image.

The red lines on this JPEG photo depict the shattered zones (earthquake faults) under the Ohi Nuclear Power Plant. The information is from Kansai Electric. The information is laid over Google Earth by Professor Mitsuhisa Watanabe, tectonic geomorphologist, Toyo University (Tokyo, Japan.)

The F-6 fault which is suspected of being an active fault is marked. The boat-shaped blue shows the location of the original trench excavation.

Professor Watanabe inspected the Ohi Nuclear Power Plant site yesterday (June 27th) with 5 members of the Japanese Diet. He confirmed 3 locations where the F-6 fault which is suspected of being an active fault can be examined by excavation. According to Professor Watanabe, the process to confirm whether this fault is active or not can be undertaken within a one week period (this includes the time required for refilling the excavation).

Government regulations state that category “S” equipment which require rigorous seismic resistance standards are “not assumed to be built over active faults.” Yesterday, it was confirmed during the on-site examination that the pipes for the emergency coolant intake from the ocean are “S” category, and they cross over the F-6 fault.

The Fukui prefecture newspapers report on the above issue today. Below, see Kansai Electric’s original sketch of the Northwest Wall of the trench. The sketch depicts a classic active fault. This controversial sketch was not submitted by Kansai Electric during the recent government back-check of Ohi.

Yuichi Sugiyama, a prominent member of the government’s back-check committee, in an interview with Kyodo (article 26 June) stated, “It is necessary to make an onsite examination of the shattered faults once more. We have only seen part of the past inspection records. We need to examine all of the information.”
(Original Japanese of Sugiyama quote:「現地で破砕帯をもう一度調査するべきだろう。過去の調査記録も一部しか見ていないので、全部確認するべきだ。」)

For more details, contact Green Action.

Aileen Mioko Smith: cell +81-90-3620-9251.

News Roundup: PM Noda Defies Massive Public Opposition to OK Restart of Ohi Reactors / Expert Warns of Active Faults Under Ohi Nuclear Plant

11,000 protestors gathered outside Prime Minister Noda’s official residence last night to oppose the restart of the Ohi nuclear reactors in Fukui prefecture.

However, none of this was broadcast on Japanese TV. [Source: Fukushima Voice]

And today in direct defiance of massive domestic opposition, Prime Minister Noda gave the go-ahead for the reactors to be restarted.

Activists have collected more than 7.5 million signatures on a petition urging an end to atomic power. Protesters have poured into the street almost daily over the past week. [Source: Reuters]

A Mainichi newspaper poll recently showed that 71 percent of the Japanese population are against the nuclear restarts.  And in direct contradiction of  PM Noda’s claims that the restarts are necessary for Japanese business, a Reuters Tankan poll has revealed that 72 percent of Japanese firms also want no early restart before safety can be guaranteed. Already there is speculation that this decision by the already unpopular Noda, “could undermine his political support and force early elections. ” [Source: Bloomberg]

Continue reading

A Call for International Protest & Action: “Don’t restart the Ohi reactors”

Today I am posting an urgent message to the world from a coalition of six groups opposed to the restart of nuclear reactors in Japan. Thank you to Stephen Gill for bringing this to my attention:

[UPDATE: Local actions in Tokyo and Osaka are also posted below*]

Dear Friends,

The Japanese Prime Minister Noda has announced his decision to order
the restart two nuclear reactors in the town of Ohi in the prefecture
of Fukui in Western Japan. He also claimed that nuclear energy will
remain an important source of energy for Japan also in the future,
thereby reconfirming Japans nuclear energy policy.

Despite all our efforts, despite the strong resistance in the region of
Western Japan surrounding Ohi, and despite the fact that a majority of
the Japanese people is against nuclear power, the Japanese government
is bowing to pressures of the nuclear lobby in Japan. We have tried
hard on our own, but now we believe that coordinated international
pressure on the Japan government is essential to bring on real and
substantial change. We believe that the Japanese government and the
Japanese public will react very sensitively to international pressure,
so we wish to ask you for your support to initiate and coordinate
international protest against the Japanese government.

Continue reading

Let’s Dance!

Today our new guest contributor, Sara Ai Coe, introduces a petition to save Japan’s dance culture!

James Brown once said ‘The one thing that can solve most of our problems is dancing.’ Now there were times when James Brown didn’t make much sense, but with this one, he really hit the spot. A form of release, a form of expression, dancing is a way we shake our daily nags away and get lost in the moment.

And Japan, known for it’s overtime and stressful work ethics, is probably a country that would benefit from a LOT of dancing. Yet in Kansai right now ‘dancing’ has become regulated. Yes our friend ‘dancing’ has gained a bad reputation and has been handed down a curfew by Japanese authorities.

A club as it should be ~ Picture by Natalie Coe

Under the Fuzoku (or Adult Entertainment) Law, clubs and bars that cater to dancing are now only supposed to operate up to 1am. As the name of the law suggests, the law was created to deal with the sales and operation of adult businesses (host clubs, brothels, girls bars etc….) However, due to the vague nature of the terminology, the law also includes “nightclubs and related establishments that allow customers to dance.” Because nightclubs in Japan are categorized under this law, they have to conform to strict specifications for business operation.

Now this law is nothing new and has been in place since 1948. Back in post war Japan, in some establishments, ‘dancing’ itself wasn’t just dancing. It was a way for places to lure customers in for some other ‘services’ (wink nudge). Continue reading