Friday, May 6, 2011

those broken kettles....

I am an I-don't-want-to-belong-to-any-club-that-will-accept-people-like-me-for-a-member sort of person. But I'll show up at tomorrow's rally in Shibuya (May 7, 14:00 JST). Shiroto no ran, who organized the historic April 10, Koenji action, leads this rally. This time I don’t embed Ustream channels here. You can see it on the organizer’s website, or journalist Yasumi Iwakami’s channels. 90 percent of life is just showing up. Anyway I’ll be among the crowd.

I even agree with what Slavoj Žižek last year said about the UK students’ actions:”You have to break some windows in order for your voice to be heard. “ But, I’m cautiously optimistic at least about the government’s nuclear policy. Not that I trust the government, but, as far as I know, the nuclear energy policy is bankrupt, there’s no other way than to change the course. I even guess the government is thinking of some sort of soft landing. If you just want to change the government’s energy policy, probably you don’t have to break windows. Having said that, nonetheless rallying is necessary at this moment. When Franklin Roosevelt became president, organizers and activists visited him and talked about many social problems. The president said he understood them and asked them to let him do it. They did. They rallied everywhere. So, let the government do it.

But, in order to change the “system, “ we probably have to be more courageous. I’m not courageous at all (That’s one of the reasons I’m writing in English), and I know many courageous people out there. At this moment I’m thinking what I can do about this.

Actually those who are opposed to nuclear power plant are not necessarily leftists. Now even a famous entrepreneur and some conservative lawmakers are arguing the era of nuclear power plant is over. Even a local bank is against it. I’ve even heard that some rightwing activists were among the April 10 Koenji rally. In a way, you can fight against nuclear power plant either politically or a-politically. It’s about how to boil water.

And we are watching those broken kettles in Fukushima. How the government and the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the Nuclear Energy Commision, and the mainstream media explain what is going on at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant and how they deal with it remind me of, again, Slavoj Žižek's critic of the Iraq War. He compared the way the US and the allies disavowed the fact that there were no WMD, so attacking Iraq was not justifiable, to an old joke Freud cited to explain how dream creates narratives that negate one truth: the fact that you have returned to a friend a broken kettle. You may say like this: 1. I never borrowed a kettle from you; 2. I have returned it unbroken; 3. the kettle was already broken when I got it from you.

They say, “The nuclear power plants are absolutely safe,” “We haven’t said they are absolutely safe,” “Something like an explosion happened, but the reactor is intact,” “It’s not leaking,” “It looks like leaking,” “You don’t have to evacuate,” “You can evacuate if you want,” “Radioactive materials are detected, but it’s not immediate danger,” “We know there is a study about the long term effects, but we’ll talk about it later,” “It’s contaminated, but you can live with it!” and so on.

I think many are angry rather at this inconsistency. No wonder Hiroaki Koide, a senior reactor engineering specialist at the Research Reactor Institute of Kyoto University, who has consistently been against nuclear power plant, is now a superstar. He advices us that it is us who to choose whether to eat contaminated vegetables, but we should know they are contaminated.

This is new to majority of Japanese people, I guess. And it’s sometimes difficult to practice, because there is some coercion: “You can evacuate if you want (but you will be treated as a traitor).” Political scientist Chigaya Kinoshita explains this here.

There are some ways of living without feeling such a coercion in Japan. “Don’t watch stupid TV shows” may be one of them. I think I know what Kinoshita calls “the ugliest appearance of inward feelings” of Japanese people, and I’m consciously distancing from it. It’s a bit misanthropic attitude. What I’ve known since the earthquake so far is, --because I could be not checking what the other Japanese people are saying online, if there weren’t the earthquake-- there are many misanthropists out there. And that’s a good news for me.

No comments:

Post a Comment