Group Introduction Hangempatsu Shimbun and the National Network Against Nuclear Energy Nuke Info Tokyo No. 129

By Baku Nishio*

The National Network Against Nuclear Energy was formed in March 1978, bringing together networks throughout Japan opposed to nuclear energy. A newspaper entitled Hangempatsu Shimbun (Anti-Nuclear Power Newspaper) has been published each month since May of that year. For over thirty years the newspaper has acted as a medium of exchange connecting the various campaigns.

Publishing this newspaper is the most important task of the National Network Against Nuclear Energy. It is this newspaper which is the glue binding the whole movement together.

Local issues are reported in regional newspapers, but although these reports would be useful for people in other regions, the reality is that most local actions are not reported in the other regions’ newspapers. It was therefore suggested that articles be collected from the various regional newspapers and published in a newsletter to enable people around the country to share important information. This suggestion was made at the first National Gathering Against Nuclear Energy held in August 1975.

The idea was developed and a little over two years later the first issue of Hangempatsu Shimbun was published. Only it did not depend on articles published in other newspapers. Instead, people in each region wrote their own articles. As a basis for discussion, in March 1978 a trial Issue No. 0 was produced by people from all around Japan and the first official issue was published in May.

Hangempatsu Shimbun is a 4 x B4 page newspaper. Besides reports about hot issues from around Japan and overseas, it also contains a monthly summary of major developments, analysis of key issues, energy information and data boxes.

Thanks to the expansion of the internet, we receive instantaneous information from around the world. Compared to this, the information in a monthly newspaper comes very late. Perhaps it is more of an “Oldspaper” than a “Newspaper”. But this also allows us to avoid confusion. There is value in communicating only truly useful information.

This monthly newspaper is not the work of a single dedicated staff member. The reason why it is published on time each month is because the readers are not passive receivers of information. The load is spread between a dozen or so editors around the country. These local editors are involved in the production of each issue. It is possible to keep publishing reliable information because many people in each region see it as their own newspaper.

The National Network Against Nuclear Energy has another major role. It comes up with ideas for the National Gathering Against Nuclear Energy. Since the first National Gathering Against Nuclear Energy in 1975, there have been national gatherings in 1983, 1988 and 2003 and the gathering planned for October 2~3 this year, entitled 10.3 NO NUKES FESTA 2009, will be the fifth. The first two gatherings were held in Kyoto and since then it has been held in Tokyo. Each time a steering committee was established to host the event, while ideas were developed during regular meetings of the National Network Against Nuclear Energy. (Regional editors meet 2 to 3 times during the year to discuss contents of the newspaper and management of the network.)

Besides generating ideas for the National Gathering Against Nuclear Energy, the network has often been used as a medium to call for protest action. For example, when the Three Mile Island accident occurred one year after the network was formed, the network called on people to converge on the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI, now METI, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) for an all night protest demanding that Japan’s nuclear power plants be shut down. Also, a National Exchange Meeting is held every few years. In May 2008 the network hosted a party to celebrate the 30th anniversary of its formation and of the publication of the first edition of Hangempatsu Shimbun. The theme of the party was “Earthquake Islands Don’t Need Nuclear Power: National Exchange Meeting”.

*Baku Nishio is editor of the Hangempatsu Shimbun and Co-Director of Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center.

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