Japan: Continuous harassment and threats for anti-nuclear activists

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(December 4, 1998) Anti-nuclear activists in Japan have been the subject of continuous harassment and sometimes even threats by unknown people, implying violence on themselves or their families. Recently, the number of threats to anti-Jabiluka activists in Japan has been increasing again.

(503.4959) Plutonium Action -In July, it was found out that large numbers of activists and anti-nuclear power shareholders of the Chugoku Electric Power Company in Shimane, Yamaguchi and Hiroshima Prefectures were exposed to harassment and threatening letters. That kind of anonymous letters had been sent to them before, but this time, the situation has escalated all the more: some of the letters contained dead insects, and most of them were full of spiteful words and phrases including malicious discrimination against minorities. Anyone with common sense could not even utter such passages.
The most cowardly threat was sent to Mr. Kazumasa Yasumoto, the leader of the group against the Shimane Nuclear Power Plant. In the letter was a threat to rape his daughter. The anti-nuclear group in Shimane prefecture took it very seriously and consulted their lawyer and immediately issued a press release. They also protested to the Chugoku Electric Power Company, though there was no evidence that the company had anything to do with it. The fact is, however, that it happened and the threats multiplied after the general meeting of shareholders of the company on June 26, where anti- nuclear activists demonstrated.
At the same time, there were also new findings about an active fault very close to the nuclear reactors (there are two reactors in Shimane and another one, an ABWR, is being planned). Mr. Yasumoto and his group, as well as other anti-nuclear groupes in Hiroshima, insisted that there be an overall and more detailed investigation of the faults, and that the operation of the reactors should be suspended.
But the CEPCO and the Japanese government, after a very brief 'investigation' at the site, stated that the newly found active fault was only eight kilometers long and there is no concern it could cause an earthquake large enough to trigger a nuclear catastrophe.

At the same time, in Hiroshima where the main office of CEPCO is located, more than a dozen people, all shareholders and activists, were receiving the same kind of harassment. Some of them experienced this for the first time, though they had been active before. Others had seldom received such things. Among the "items" received was stolen mail addressed to other people.

Everyone is convinced this was an organized pressure to the anti-nuclear power movement. The following facts will show why we think in such way:

  1. This kind of harassment and threats have a long history. For example, in 1992 when there was the worldwide protest against the Japanese plutonium shipment from Europe by the ship Akatsuki Maru, the CNIC (Citizen's Nuclear Information Center in Tokyo), reportedly received hundreds of threatening letters. Also numerous very expensive items that no one in the staff had ordered, were sent to their office.
    Some years ago, the same thing happened to the activists around Nagoya City in central Japan. They had been supporting the local struggle against the construction of Ashihama nuclear power plants for more than 30 years.
    A well-known female activist in Shikoku, who lives near Ikata nuclear power plant, said she also got letters enclosing not only dead insects, but also razer blades. She was also astonished to see a huge piece of furniture occupying the front door of her house. She had never asked anyone to bring such furniture to her home.
  2. Very often, included in the letters are lists of anti-nuclear activists or groups, together with lists of left-wing organizations, including Communist groups. The information about persons or groups is sometimes correct and sometimes not. Sometimes the threats include leaflets or reports by the authorities, or police, which show how they are controlling and watching anti-government groups or terrorists.
  3. The letters had been posted in various places in Japan: Tokyo, Yamanashi, Nagano, Hiroshima, Nagoya, etc. Sometimes exactly the same copies were sent from different post offices, located quite far from each other.
  4. Stolen mail of unknown people in Tokyo were sometimes found to be posted in a post office in Hiroshima.

These facts show clearly that all this must have been done not by individuals but by some kind of professional organization. Who else are able to do this? It cannot be done without money and an organization: someone must be paying for such inhuman and mean behavior.

After making the continuous threats public, it seems that such harassment decreased (and ceased in Hiroshima). However, very recent news reveals that it increased again after the 6th No Nukes Asia Forum in Thailand (October 1998). Dr. Hosokawa is an associate professor of Saga University in Japan. He is fighting for protection of the Kakadu National Park in Australia and together with indigenous people there against the proposed Jabiluka mine. Harassments to him, and even violent threats to his family, are increasing now, exactly at the time the UN World Heritage Committee is going to hold its conference in Kyoto, Japan, about putting Kakadu National Park on the World Heritage In Danger list. Representatives of indigenous people are coming to the conference and joint actions are being prepared in Kyoto and Osaka by the Japanese supporting groups, including Dr. Hosokawa.

As already known, the large part of the investment to the uranium mining at Jabiluka comes from Japanese utilities, such as Kansai Electric Power Company, Shikoku Electric Power Company, and Kyushu Electric Power Company. KEPCO rejects meeting representatives from Australian indigenous people. They claim it is an Australian domestic issue.

Source & contact: Satomi Oba
Plutonium Action Hiroshima
1673-17 Ichikawa, Shiraki-cho, Asakita-ku
Hiroshima 739-1411
Tel/fax: +81-82-828 2603
E-mail: dogwood@muc.biglobe.ne.jp

Latest news

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Australia will reject demand Unesco to halt Jabiluka.
On December 1, in its meeting in Kyoto, Japan, the World Heritage Committee, have unanimously asked the Australian government to immediately cease construction of Jabiluka until the next World Heritage Bureau meeting in May 1999, while a series of environmental reviews take place. It has delayed placing Kakadu National park on the 'in danger' list until then.
Of course, it is a far from final victory on Jabiluka. But it is a tremendous step forward, and it is a judgement that the Australian government can't just shrug off - The international community has condemned the Jabiluka project at the very highest level.

The reaction of the Australian government was prompt: Environmental Senator Robert Hill described the report on Kakadu by the World Heritage Mission as "biased, unbalanced and totally lacking in objectivity". He said Australia would ignore the Unesco demand to halt the uranium mine.

Nevertheless the Committee statement is a tribute, amongst other things, to the good sense of people on the Committee. But it is very much a tribute to the very hard work that has been put in by people all accross the world to neutralise the tactics of the Australian government.

ENS, 1 December 1998 and press release Friends of the Earth Australia 1 December 1998.