Thursday, June 29, 2006

25 years protest and picket in Japan

On June 29 1981, OKI sacked one of its workers who had refused to sign the choices he was offered, a transfer order to work far from his home or to a piece of paper that said he agreed to be fired.

On June 29 2006, 25 years later Tetsuro Tanaka, was forcefully evicted from the company's shareholders meeting. This violence against a shareholder who dared to ask a question was reported the following day in a Tokyo newspaper. A number of Japanese companies have been forced to appoligise to their stockhoders on matters of corruption and other violations of their legal responsibilities.

Tanaka has become famous around the world for his daily picket of the OKI factory where he worked in Takao. He sings songs he has composed about his struggle with the company. Late year he was awarded a Japanese human rights award in Tokyo for his determination and support for other workers who find themselves in similar situations, being unfairly dissmissed or being punished for standing up for themselves.

The German magazine Der Spiegel wrote about Tanaka this February and his story was picked up recently by a Turkish website but the best place to find out more is from his own website at

Congratulations on on the 25th anniversary!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Kimiko Nezu sit in

Yesterday Tetsuro took us to visit the sit in of Kimiko Nezu. Her long struggle is often mention in the press and a google search on her name finds dozens of articles. The struggle is against the compulsion introduced into Tokyo schools that students and teachers are forced to stand for the flag and sing for the national anthem.

A few brave teachers have protested and are continually harased and punished by the authorites. One of the reasons they will not sing the anthem is because it is the World War 2 hymn "Kimigayo" that was used to glorify the Japanese Imperial Army as it invaded other Asian nations killing 19 million people. "Hinomaru" is the Japanese national flag and "Kimigayo" the Japanese national anthem. The stance of people on the Hinomaru-Kimigayo issue has become a touchstone question of democracy itself in Japan.

Kimiko Nezu has recently been supended without pay for three months so she sits outside the school in protest.

below is part of a recent New York Times article which mentions the teachers struggle in the context of the rise of Japanese nationlism and denial of the crimes of the past:

U.S. Needs Japan's Diplomacy, but Tokyo Isn't Talking

Published: June 25, 2006

"Mr. Koizumi has cemented good relations with Mr. Bush by doing the previously unthinkable: deploying troops to Iraq, deepening military ties and moving Japan toward a revision of the Constitution. The new military assertiveness, though, has given voice to conservatives who have long wanted to restore prewar symbols. Teachers are now being punished for refusing to sing the national anthem. Government-endorsed textbooks play down Japan's past militarism. If Asia has been troubled by the rise of Japanese nationalism, it has also been perplexed by America's silence. Yasukuni, after all, enshrines leaders who waged war against the United States, too, and its museum propagates the rightist view that the United States forced Japan into war."

Monday, June 26, 2006


We took the opportunity to go to Nishi-Hachioji and the Nepalese curry shop too!

we shopped at the 100 yen shop to and earlier in Hachioji we visited Muji to look for some modern design but ended up buying some Japanese bamboo cooking utensils

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Takao: fire flies

We're back in Takao, so far the weather has been very mild rather than hot and steamy as we'd expected

We visited a village close by to see the fire flies which were spectacular. The village name means Spirit Village after all defenders were massacred years ago. Their ghosts are still marching on occasion apparently! All we could hear was frogs. Through the narrow streets we walked along wound a stream on the banks of which the fire flies appeared.

Time flies too and we again accompanied our friend Tetsuro Tanaka on his picket duty now close to 25 years outside the OKI factory that sacked him on 29 June 1981