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Greens Japan Interview 2019

[후쿠시마 핵사고 8주년] 일본 후쿠시마 주민이 들려주는 사고 후 이야기

11 March 2019 is the 8th anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear meltdown disaster.  Greens Japan tells us in this interview about how It’s going for the Greens in Japan now.  Watch the video for a touching personal story about what it;s like to live in Fukushima in 2011 and today.

Greens Japan Basic data:
Date that the party was founded: July 2012
Membership size: 420 of the party members, 560 of its supporters
Representation in public office: 32 city councilors of the party members, 36 city councilor of its supporters
Priority campaigns in 2019:  Hopes from Locals for a Sustainable Society (campaign for nation-wide local elections)

Interview:

How is it going for the Greens in Japan now?

Following the 2011 East Japan Earthquake and the subsequent Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster, Greens Japan was founded in 2012 from networks of ecologist city councilors as well as about one thousand Green political activists.  

In 2013 Greens Japan contested the national elections for the first time, however no candidates were elected.

A challenge currently experienced by Greens Japan is that our membership has a reduced number and the average individual age of members is relatively advanced.  Nevertheless the party is active in many environmental and anti-nuclear campaigns.

 

What are your party’s main political objectives, topics and activities currently? 

The party’s priority topic is denuclearization, support for Fukushima victims, reduction of energy use in Japan and promotion of sustainable energy.

A secondary topic of importance for us is to ensure that Japan’s constitution remains grounded in the preservation of peace.  Related to that mission we protest gainst the development of the new United States military base in Okinawa-Henoko.

A third priority is to take action to address climate change in general and stopping coal thermal generation in particular.

A fourth priority is gender equity, especially increasing female representation in national and local parliament. Currently only 10% of political speakers are female.

 

How is Greens Japan different from other parties in Japan?

A primary difference is that the Greens are the only party whose ideology is not based on the pursuit of economy growth. Although communists and socialists join the Greens in appealing for sustainable energy (anti-nuclear), peace and justice, they differ from the Greens in that they place economic growth as a primary political goal.

Secondly is that the Greens prioritise gender equity and have implemented a gender quota system in its own party representation.

Thirdly is how the Greens practice participatory democracy in our politics.

Fourthly is our connection to the Global Greens.

 

How has the Fukushima nuclear disaster affected life in Japan?  How has it affected the Green Party?  

The Fukushima disaster raised tremendous attention among Japanese about the dangers of nuclear power. Many Japanese want denuclearization and Greens Japan are front runners of the campaign.

The current Japanese government administration is however trying to restart nuclear reactors which were stopped after the Fukushima nuclear meltdown and to force evacuated families to return home by cutting public support for them. So Green activists are very busy.

 

What successes has the party had which you’d like Greens elsewhere to know about?  

First is our anti-nuclear campaign. Thanks to Greens and other anti-nuclear activists, Prime Minister Abe failed in all his nuclear “top sales” attempts to export nuclear power technology.

Second is gender equity. Greens Japan offers a good example of a successful gender quota system in its representation and board membership. Finally in May, 2018, a Law for Promoting Gender Equality in Politics passed in the Japanese legislature.

Greens Japan’s strong point is having 68 city councilors and province congresspersons among its members and supporters. Both ordinary party members and councilor members are leading in various civil activities as well as in unifying groups to run against the current administration’s ruling parties.

 

What is the voting system in Japan? What are the requirements for a minority party to get elected?  And how has that affected Greens Japan?  

The majority of Lower House electorates have a single seat. So it is almost impossible for a small party like Greens Japan to win a seat. In order to run for nation-wide proportional electorate of the Upper House, the party must have 10 candidates. This is awfully difficult because each candidate is required to deposit 6 million yen (about 55,000 USD and 50,0000 EUR per candidate) for a proportional electorate, 3 million yen (about 27 thousand US dollars and 25,000 EUR) for each single/multiple electorate candidate. Actually when Greens Japan challenged the Upper House election in 2013, we needed 57 million yen (570 thousand dollars) only for deposits, and we spent 100 million yen (1 million dollars) in total for the campaign. We are taking a legal action against this expensive election deposit.

What next elections will Japanese Greens be running candidates in?

As mentioned above, it is difficult for us to challenge again national elections. While we try to reform the election system in the long run, in the short run, we are devoting ourselves to increasing municipal and provincial representation.

 

Do you collaborate with other Green Parties in the region? Which parties do you collaborate most with? 

We are engaged in a joint anti-nuclear campaign on 3.11 Fukushima anniversary.

 

How would you like to utilise the Global Greens community? and How would you like to interact with other Green parties? 

Global Greens is the place where we can reconfirm that Greens are “sans frontier”. Because the problems that we are facing are global.  Green parties have the most advantage in the sense that we can work together across borders. Global Greens is the symbol of global collaboration of Greens. So when we show Global Greens, we show a new age of political parties.

 

What would you like to see the Glocal Greens to be like in 5-10 years time? 

We want to see many Green congresspersons, mayors, governors, ministers in different countries who lead to combat global climate change and realize sustainable societies.

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