Tento Hiroba: One step at a time

A year is a long time.  That profound opening sentence must have got you thinking.  looking at some of the kudaranai (trifling/worthless) news topics recently, it is easy to forget what happened nearly a year ago, when Japan nearly died.  It is as if the nation`s emergency bypass surgery has been forgotten, and the regular dialysis now an accepted part of life – yet one big aftershock or new tremor and the country will be back in intensive care, or worse.   

I still can not quite understand how Japan can even contemplate going back on the nuclear drug: the addiction must be acute. 

After a three-week absence, I revisited the anti-nuclear protest tents this afternoon.  Not much had changed, except in the men`s tent there was a girl.  She was pleased to see another young person, an improvement in the tayosei (diversity), she said.  

Her interest in the protest came from a disturbing encounter with a frightened girl from Fukushima who was panicking that the radiation she has already been exposed to will prevent her having children. 


The men’s tent was busy.  Men in their 60s kept coming and going, many of them veterans of 1960s and 1970s protest movements.  One of the old men – perhaps I should call him senior rather than old –  sat down and chatted to us: he explained it was important to spread seeds of protest to youngsters, otherwise in the future nobody will know how to demonstrate.  

Perhaps the new breed will just break into shoe shops. 

Sitting on a fold-up chair inside the tent, I was well looked after.  Senior 2 gave me a paper cup of orange juice.  Then a young lad, inexplicably dressed like a 1920s golfer, gave me a sashire (donated) doughnut. 

Senior 3 asked me about nuclear plants in England, leukemia outbreaks and radiation in the Irish Sea.  I had no idea how to answer, in English or Japanese; he might as well have asked me to explain how my colon works.  

So I hit back with a question of my own.  

“Isn`t radiation damage hard to prove?”

“No, it`s not.  There is plenty of data that proves it.  The government just chooses not to saiyo (accept) it,” Senior 3 said.

The Seniors were well-informed and willing to talk to me.  I hope I can remember some of it. 

I left the mens tent before darkness came, and just after the doughnuts had run out.  Outside Seniors 4,5 and 6 were looking puzzled.  They were gazing at a small concrete platform, a platform with two steps.

Speakers climb onto this platform to make speeches.  But apparently some older demonstrators have complained of memai (dizziness) when speaking.  The Seniors were planning to make the platform lower:  at that moment Senior 7 was crouched down trying to knock the second step away.  One step seems enough of a challenge for the current batch of protestors.   


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