News From The Eastern Front: Tokyo’s Shirouto No Ran collective and Japan’s Antinuclear Explosion

First emerging in the early 2000s, Shirouto no Ran [Amateur Revolt] has become the foremost group representing anarchist and radical values in Tokyo, and perhaps in all of Japan. Their organizational model, based on the development of small businesses and community spaces to form what might be called an economic autonomous zone, is uniquely suited to the reality of Tokyo, but might also offer inspiration for other organizations wishing to establish a lasting basis for community and solidarity. Most interestingly, the events of 2011, in Japan as elsewhere, demonstrated just how suddenly supposedly ‘radical’ politics can be moved from the margin to the center. After years of organizing small demonstrations on behalf of anticapitalism and economic justice, Shirouto no Ran were the group most qualified to organize the vehement public opposition to nuclear power that suddenly emerged after a massive earthquake led to multiple meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear complex. After years of being considered radicals, the group – not at all unlike the anarchists and collectivists whose ideas have animated Occupy Wall Street – has suddenly become a major voice in national dialogues. This presentation will be based on ethnographic research conducted during 2010-2011, when the presenter was a research fellow in Tokyo with the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, and participated in many Shirouto no Ran activities. Presentation will include original photos and interview data.>
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David Morris