Can Occupiers of Anti-Nuke Tent Village Break Down METI of Japan?



The anti-nuclear tent village in Tokyo.

September 25, 2014
Text & Photo by Yoshihiro Kaneda

I went back to Japan this summer and I studied a lot of Japanese anti-nuclear movements. One of the symbols of anti-nuclear movements in Japan is the tent village at the small corner place inside of the Ministry of Energy, Trade and Industry (METI) building’s ground. One young man started the hunger strike on September 11, 2011 and that created three occupy tents. Then, the youth, the old and the foreigner ?gathered in the tents with communion and unity. Now, the old remain same as its start because the old have pensions and retirement benefit. On March, 2013, two men were sued by the government due to occupying the national ground without any permission. Taro Fuchigami and Taichi Masakiyo are defendants and are used to be new left activists. In contrast with another symbol, Friday’s public protest in front of the prime minister’s house is led by the youth such as Naomi Redwolf and so on. Two of those protests in the capital of Japan have led nationwide anti-nuclear movements and gathered alternative political activism now. I feel, in regard to anti-nuclear movement, Japanese movements are very diverse and high quality. Many people have traveled and researched Chernobyl and fought against the Nuclear Denial.


On July 16th, the 7th oral argument about occupying the premises of the Ministry of Energy, Trade and Industry (METI) convened in the Tokyo District Court in Japan. The occupiers’ purposes are to stop nuclear power plants in Japan and to accuse METI on their responsibility of the long time nuclear energy policy which caused the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident. The court opened from the judge’s caution “don’t laugh at the court.” One of the defendants, Taro Fuchigami told a joke to the judge immediately like an old-time yippie or 60s’ antic revolutionary. The courtroom audience laughed at his strange question because most of audience were on the side of the occupiers. If you want to be a courtroom audience, you need a drawing of lots to participate, 98 people to about 150 people.



The lawyer, Hiroyuki Kawai, is also an anti-nuclear activist. He participated actively on the Tokyo governor election this year for former prime minister Morihiro Hosakawa who called on stop nuclear power plants immediately in the race. The person who sat next to Kawai in the courtroom was the lawyer, Kenji Utsunomiya, who ran the Tokyo governor election also to call on the same.


DSC00827One of the defendants, Taro Fuchigami at the Tokyo District Court

? ? ? ? ? ? ? Kawai held oral proceedings first. He highly evaluated the Fukui District Court’s ruling on May 21 which ordered to stop reactivating Ōi nuclear power plant. Kawai picked up several points from the verdict of the Fukui District Court’s ruling and read sentences without any change. Mr. Kawai insisted that the verdict proved the legitimacy of anti-nuke occupiers, and alleged METI’s nuclear power plant policy. He strengthened personal right.

The lawyer, Hiroyuki Kawai at the press conference of the anti-nuclear tents trial.

????????????? Below are the reasons of legitimacy of occupiers from the verdict which the lawyer, Mr. Kawai, read in the court. The most impressive idea from the verdict is to persuade about personal right as a basic human right. Below is a summary of the verdict which Kawai read in the court which is very progressive for the international atomic scene because the verdict weigh heavily on personal right which the international atomic industry always has lacked. The verdict was translated by the Green Peace Japan and the summary would be lengthy but meaningful and useful.

From the verdict:

From reasons 1:

Interests relating to the life, body, soul, and lifestyle of an individual are fundamental to the individuality of each person, and the entirety of these can be considered to be personal rights. Personal rights are enshrined in the Constitution (Articles 13 and 25), are the foundation for people’s lives, and under the laws of our country there are no rights that have greater value.

From reasons 2:

There are various views about how much damage is done to people’s health by how many millisieverts of radiation per year, and the size of the recommended evacuation areas differs depending on which view is taken, but the Ukrainian government and the Republic of Belarus which have continued to face this issue for over 20 years have large evacuation areas in place even nowThe fact that both these governments nevertheless had to take the aforementioned measures casts grave doubts on the legitimacy of an optimistic view of the health problems caused by radioactive material…

From reasons 3:

Nuclear power stations fulfill the important social function of producing electricity, howeverthe operation of nuclear power plants as one means of producing electricity is legally associated with freedom of economic activity (Constitution, Article 22, Clause 1) and has a lower ranking in the Constitution than the central tenet of personal rights. Furthermore, it is difficult to imagine, outside of a large-scale natural disaster or a war, anything other than an accident at a nuclear power plant that could have the potential to cause a situation whereby these fundamental rights are extensively compromised. Even if it is considered too extreme to argue that the very existence of an economic activity having such danger, even abstractly, is not permitted under the Constitution, it is natural for an injunction against the same to be allowed if the tangible risk exists, however remotely, of such a situation occurring.

The true nature of the risks of nuclear power plant technology and the scale of the damage caused thereby have become eminently clear as a result of the Fukushima nuclear accident.

From reasons 5:

  • Nuclear power stations use a basic systemfor the cooling function after an emergency shutdown as a result of an earthquake. Earthquakes exceeding 1260 gal cause this system to collapse and it is nearly impossible for emergency equipment or a reserve means to compensate, which leads to a meltdown. The Defendant has admitted that there are almost no effective means that could be used if an earthquake of this scale were to occur… In fact, ? the greatest magnitude in the past recorded in Japan was 4022 gals during the Iwate-Miyagi Nairiku Earthquake and the figure of 1260 gals is far below this level…it is only natural to attach importance to the fact that earthquakes exceeding the anticipated earthquake ground motion have occurred five times, at four nuclear power plants at the fewer than 20 nuclear power plant sites, in the period of less than 10 years since 2005.

From reasons 9:

On the other hand, the Defendant claims that the operation of the nuclear power plant in question leads to stable power supply and reduced costs, but it is not legally legitimate for this Court to take part in the argument that compares rights relating to the very survival of an extremely large number of people to the issue of whether electricity costs are high or low, or to make a determination about the merits of said argument. There is an argument about the outflow or loss of national wealth in relation to this cost issue. However, it is the view of this Court that even if a large trade deficit occurred as a result of stopping the operation of this nuclear power plant, this should not be considered an outflow or loss of national wealth. This Court considers national wealth to be the rich land and the people livelihoods that have taken root there, and that being unable to recover these is the true loss of national wealth.

Furthermore, the Defendant claims that the operation of the nuclear power plant is excellent from an environmental perspective because of the contribution to reducing CO2 emissions. However, the environmental contamination incurred if one serious accident occurs at a nuclear power plant would be horrific and it would be seriously ill-founded to use environmental concerns as the basis for continuing operation of a nuclear power plant, in light of the largest ever pollution and environmental contamination in the history of our country having been caused by the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident.


In addition, according to one of defendants, Taro Fuchigami, this ruling apparently has revived Japanese anti-nuclear movements.