How Fukushima gave rise to a new anti-racism movement

Shaw, Vivian

Publisher:  Al Jazeera
Date Written:  12/03/2017
Year Published:  2017  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX20487

Shaw examines the rise in anti-discrimination social activism in Japan after the environmental disasters in 2011 and lack of support from the government towards its non-Japanese citizens.



The rebirth of anti-discrimination social movements in Japan is one of the unexpected stories of 3/11.

Fukushima "awakened" first-time protesters in the tens of thousands to both the fragility and potentials of democracy in times of crisis. Yet this mass mobilisation did not merely represent activists' attempts to build a new nation from the rubble of disaster. Rather, escalated feelings of distrust in government, media, and scientific authorities, in addition to a deep sense of remorse, shook up notions of what it means to be Japanese and to live in Japan.

Minority-led civil rights movements by ethnic Koreans, Buraku (a historically discriminated-against social caste), and indigenous groups, such as Ainu and Okinawans, have existed in Japan throughout the 20th century.

But what anti-racism activists have aspired to after 3/11 is different. Primarily an ethnically Japanese movement, they view racism as a problem that is harmful to all aspects of society. These activists seek to make the anti-racism movement mainstream among Japanese people and to take on the physical and emotional labour of activism as a means of alleviating the risks and burdens faced by minorities.

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