Harassment of anti-nuclear citizens in Japan

Chain Reaction #119, Nov 2013, www.foe.org.au/chain-reaction/editions/119

Anti-nuclear activists held an exhibition in Tokyo on August 10−11 to highlight the harassment and threats they faced during a period long before the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Letters and postcards sent to the activists in the 1990s and early 2000s were displayed. One postcard simply says, "You are a tick." Some envelopes contained hair, cigarette butts and dead cockroaches. Other letters were filled with obscenities.

Yuki Adachi, a 61-year-old resident in Tokyo, said she was repeatedly harassed after she joined the anti-nuclear movement in light of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster. She organised a citizens group, invited mothers like her to study meetings, and sometimes joined opposition demonstrations held at candidate sites for nuclear power plants in Japan.

Adachi then began to receive strange mail and "silent" phone calls at midnight. A credit card company sent her a bill for 3 million yen (about US$31,000) for a tractor that she had supposedly ordered from an agricultural machinery store in Hiroshima Prefecture. Someone had stolen her credit card number. Without my knowledge, I was suddenly forced into debt. I felt spine-chilling horror," Adachi said.

Baku Nishio, 66, co-leader of the Citizens' Nuclear Information Center (CNIC), a nonprofit organisation, said he received letters and postcards with nonsensical sentences. But in others, the messages and intentions were clear. One year, Nishio learned that his acquaintances had received New Year's greeting cards that falsely used his name as the sender. The messages on the cards were intended to make him appear like a member of a radical group. "I think that the person who sent those New Year's greeting cards wanted to split the participants and members of our activities," Nishio said.

For two to three years, Masako Sawai, 60, a CNIC staff member, often received large bundles of several dozen letters. In one case, an envelope arrived at Sawai's home that contained a copy of a photo of her walking with her child. "I think that a big organisation with a lot of money and manpower was behind (the harassment)," Sawai said.

In 1995, five organisations and 66 individuals asked the Human Rights Protection Committee of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations to take measures against the harassment. By that time, 4,000 of the letters and postcards had been confirmed around the country.

Lawyer Yuichi Kaido, one of the organisers of the exhibition, said: "The battle between those supporting the restart of idled nuclear reactors and those against it will be heating up from now on. The obstruction tactics against the anti-nuclear movement that were seen in the past could occur again."

'Tokyo exhibition to show harassment against anti-nuclear movement', Asahi Shimbun, 10 August 2013.