On the Anniversary of 3/11

by Jason Douglass

At a street corner two blocks down from Tokyo’s Yurakucho station, the metal underbellies of the Yamanote line trains – each perfectly divorced by three minutes – grind against their tracks at high speeds, resonating as if an urban metronome. The chill, damp air seems to blur the red, handheld lights of the policemen as they usher protestors into meticulously constructed rows. This night marks the second anniversary of Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster; this intersection stands adjacent to the headquarters of TEPCO, the energy company believed by many to be responsible for the seemingly eternal desecration of Fukushima Daiichi. In the eyes of the international community, those gathered on this night stand for a cause currently championed by the Japanese people nationwide. In reality, they number less than seventy.

Clinging to succinct, radical signage, these protestors, though few in number, rewrite what would have otherwise been the orderly soundtrack of a downtown Tokyo district. Into megaphones, they peer upward; toward the offices of those executive few they believe to have endangered the lives of their beloved. Uprooted and outraged, their tears stain the precautionary white paper masks they wear as Tokyo everymen and women. Disappointed by the amount of political and economic power still held by TEPCO despite their vulnerabilities exposed by Mother Nature’s recent wrath, they refuse to accept personal catharsis before industrial accountability. Over the past two years, these protests, which have regularly occurred on Friday evenings outside of the Prime Minister’s residence, have slowly begun to dwindle in attendance. After last year’s election, which allowed anti-nuclear movements to take a backseat to domestic economic issues, the media has only further downplayed this grass-root political activism. But those in attendance did not allow the absence of cameras or TEPCO respondents to silence their grievances. Each possess a story they so desperately want to share.

Mistake not the Japanese as an apolitical man, for tonight he cries out, if only at closed corporate windows and trains which know only how to move forward, unrelentingly. On the same unforgiving timetable as the train, Japan too moves forward, deafened, with no time to stop and think about the future of domestic energy production. At this rate, there is only one certainty: eventually, force without fuel must come to a screeching halt.