Challenging Abe’s Japan

From Jacobin:  2015/11

The growing youth movement against Prime Minister Shinzō Abe is disrupting Japan’s conservative status quo.

Protesters outside Japans Diet building in August 2015 LittleGray_T  Flickr

Protesters outside Japan's Diet building in August 2015. LittleGray_T / Flickr

Since the earthquakes and a nuclear meltdown in Fukushima hit eastern Japan in March 2011, fissures have opened up across the surface of the Japanese archipelago — and across the surface of Japanese society.

Contemporary Japan is freighted with the triple weight of historical memory, natural disaster, and austerity — a situation sustained and compounded by the regime of Shinzō Abe, the most conservative prime minister the country has seen since World War II.

But there are signs that this unstable status quo is producing its own revolts and generating its own forces of resistance at the core of Japanese society. In August and September alone, hundreds of thousands of youth, activists from across the social and political landscape, leaders of opposition parties, trade unionists, workers, and others held intense, nightly demonstrations against the Abe administration outside the National Diet, a force of direct political action unseen in Japan for many years.

What explains this seemingly sudden explosion?