"The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Music, Musicians, and Anti-Nuclear Protest in the Post-Fukushima Era"

Abstract, Inter-Asia Popular Music Studies Conference, Taipei, July 13-15, 2012 (submitted January 31, 2012)

Prior version, Experience Music Project Conference, New York, March 25, 2012

Noriko Manabe, Princeton University

Despite Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan has pursued a program of expanding nuclear power, enabled by close relationships between electric power companies, central and local governments, and the media that go back to 1954. Generous grants have kept rural villages willing to host nuclear power plants, while heavy advertising spending by electric power and affiliated companies—about four times Toyota's—may have left mainstream media reluctant to carry non-official information on the Fukushima plant; they have largely ignored antinuclear demonstrations of 60,000 participants. Entertainers who are explicitly antinuclear have been commercially castigated. Hence, antinuclear music is left largely to artists working outside of major record labels.

Based on interviews with artists and analysis, this paper examines the role of music in the Japanese antinuclear movement post-Fukushima. After explaining the politico-industrial- media structures that have sustained nuclear power, I describe the frames (cf. Entman, Gamson, Hall) employed by pro-nuclear factions and their reframing by rappers, dancehall DJs, indie rockers, and J-Pop singers, to vent frustrations, raise awareness, and critique the perpetrators and the society. Using clever wordplay and musico-cultural references ranging from Godzilla and Kanegon, hip-hop classics by Gil Scott-Heron and Public Enemy, Okinawan songs, and World War II imagery, they employ irony and humor, homage, and critiques of the Japanese past in "sound demonstrations" (protest parade with sound trucks), festivals and performances, street protests, and anonymous uploads, giving raucous, sarcastic, humorous, or inappropriately sweet voice to under-recognized points of view.