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Sunday, May 18

They’re Not Wanted

Heading home from work on Friday, I had the pleasure of opening my windows and letting the warm breeze blow throw the car. The weather has been positively perfect since the typhoon finally blew off the coast of our Japanese shores last week. I had the radio on to sing along to my favorite songs, very low of course so as not to disturb any other drivers or passerbys. In the midst of a particularly good song, I heard another song start to play over top of it. Thinking it must be something with my radio, I began adjusting things, only to find the other song getting louder. It took me a few moments to realize that it was yet another van with big speakers on its roof blaring out something in every direction. Typically, these vans are piercing the air with advertisements for their wears or political propaganda. But this van was much different. It wasn’t the sing-songy style of advertising, but indeed an actual song. Something not unlike a very old Japanese show tune from, say, the 1950s. I turned down my radio to listen to the strangeness of this music as the next song began to play, also being the same odd, old-fashioned style of music. There was no chance to listen to my own tunes anymore, so I kept the radio off as I followed the van several kilometers down the street.

Tired of the music, but still interested in the van itself for its unusualness, I began to take other notes on it. It was then that I realized what the graphics were that were taped to the back of the van. Now I can’t read Japanese, but I did recognize the ship with a nuclear symbol smacked onto the middle of the graphic. The only words in English were “Yes or No.”

A little background here… for those that don’t know, the United States is sending a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to Japan to replace the aircraft carrier currently deployed here, a conventional diesel-powered ship. One who knows anything about history knows this is quite a big deal here in the Land of the Rising Sun. There are many who don’t want it… for obvious reasons… and others who are tolerating it. I can’t figure out which one the van in front of me was… but it was saying something. Something with very bad music.


Mike S said...

Do they still have the paid demonstrators? I remember them recruiting students for various protests when I was lecturing there. At that time they offered 1-2k yen and a bento box for attending the protest during the 'scheduled' times. Always got a kick out of how they all would climb back aboard the buses in mid-chant when the ending time was reached. So very civil & organized:):)

Ginny said...

I hated trying to get home from the base with demonstrators outside the gates yelling "Yankee, Go Home". They were peaceful demonstrations but uncomfortable nonetheless.

Anonymous said...

Sounds very civilized and a painless way to register protest. Do you know if the "paid" demonstrators believed in their cause?

Interesting entry, keep up the good work,


Kimono Karen said...

I have no idea if they do believe in the cause they are promoting. I've actually never faced one directly to ask for sure. Perhaps that will have to be my next step... research it!