Supporters of nuclear power will continue to agitate in favor of continuing with the technology for some time. Some nuclear reactors will likely be restarted, but in the medium to long term nuclear power in Japan will wane. This will not, however, be a smooth process and it will depend on the strength of the antinuclear movement.
As discussed above, the primary actors in the antinuclear movement after the Fukushima nuclear accident come from a part of Japanese society that is not organized formally, either in terms of voting behavior, or as a pressure group or political party. Such voices are well adapted to the internet, but cannot easily influence a twentieth-century-style representative democracy. Nevertheless, in the developed countries today, unlike in the 1960s, they are now in the majority. This is symbolized by the OWS slogan, “we are the 99%.” In 1968, only a minority of people were not organized formally. Their existence was symbolized by the students and artists who voiced their objections to the corporate system. This is the big difference between 1968, which was a rebellion by a minority and 2011, which was a protest by the 99%.
At the same time, however, despite the upsurge in such movements, they have had little direct effect on electoral outcomes
Even when the unorganized have become a majority, however, it is hard to see this recasting a political system that was built in the twentieth century. In 2011, there were frequent demonstrations for direct democracy not only in Japan but around the world. Bringing these kinds of voices together will therefore be a major issue for the future, not only in Japan but around the world. If they can come together, they may be able to bring about policy https://tennesseepaydayloans.org/cities/brentwood/ changes through the weight of public opinion or through other means even without majority representation in parliament.
In Japan, these amorphous voices are rarely heard in the mass media
As an example of what this might look like, consider the meeting between MCAN representatives and then prime minister Noda Yoshihiko in the summer of 2012 and the subsequent decision by the DPJ that “nuclear power be phased out completely by 2040.” In this case, a small group inside the DPJ, including former prime minister Kan Naoto, started working with MCAN. At that time, former chief party secretary Ozawa Ichiro’s group was agitating against the party leadership. The DPJ was preparing for a September leadership ballot and Noda needed the support of Kan’s group in order to remain in office. Protests involving tens of thousands of people were taking place outside the prime minister’s residence every week and Friday protests had commenced in 87 cities around the country. In this context, a group of nameless activists from the cognitive precariat met with the prime minister and the government decided to abolish nuclear power. This was only possible due to the intersection of a growing movement with a favorable political opportunity structure. Nuclear power is already an expensive industry to maintain and only a small section of society benefits from it. On an issue like this, even a movement without a formal organization can be politically effective.
In the five years since 2011, a change has taken place in Japanese society. The rallies against the security legislation in the summer of 2015 were much more widely reported in the mass media than the antinuclear movement was in 2012. Furthermore, the student group SEALDs (Students Environmental Action for Liberal Democracy) that was struggling against the security legislation in the summer of 2015 was gaining momentum. The group was begun by a number of people who were ordinary participants in the protests outside the prime minister’s residence during the antinuclear movement in 2012. Okuda Aki, one of the central members of SEALDs, used Twitter to gather about 300 students to the protest outside the prime minister’s residence in summer 2012. Later, the group organized debates about the state of Japanese society. 51 This was the origin of SEALDs.