Joint Statement for the Freedom of Demonstration and Assembly
In the aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, following the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami on March 11th, TEPCO, METI and the government have colluded in covering up the real situation and underplaying its damage. This may eventually claim many lives in the near future. Such behavior is clearly criminal. This is even unconstitutional. Article 25 states that ‘all people shall have the right to maintain the minimum standards of wholesome and cultured living’, yet while TEPCO, METI and the government should take responsibility for it, they behave as if all problems have already been solved.
Voices of protest among the people, demanding full nuclear decommissioning, are now growing ever large. Naturally such opinions are expressed in the form of street demonstrations. Organizing and joining a rally that is ‘freedom of assembly and association as well as speech, press and all other forms of expression’ is a fundamental democratic right, guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution. The groundswell of political protests all over Japan is testament not to confusion or disorder, but to the maturity of Japanese civil society. This is what overseas media are now taking notice of.
However, the reality is that the police are systematically obstructing the demonstrations. During the ‘Genpatsu Yamero (No Nukes)’ rally in Shinjuku on September 11th, 12 participants were arrested. As movies uploaded to YouTube and other media testimonies show, these are coercive arrests without any reasonable grounds. Their true intention, of repressing all anti-nuclear demonstrations by targeting the particular group that has successfully organized rallies with young people, is apparent.
We condemn this injustice and support the people’s right to demonstration as part of the freedom of expression. Japanese mass media are complicit in concealing the fact that mass dissent against nuclear reactors exist, by neglecting to report the anti-nuclear protests or the malicious arrests in their coverage. We also call on the mass media to reflect on their news policies.