The protests pictured took place on the streets of Shibuya, but reportedly similar protests took place in half a dozen other cities.
Organising the protests was Toshio Tamogami, a former air force general and chief of staff sacked for his hawkish views on Japan’s war guilt, and an advocate of Japan acquiring nuclear weapons as a guarantee against Chinese domination.
He also heads the newly formed “Ganbare Nippon!” demonstration committee, a conservative political organisation formed to organise such protests.
At the protests Tamogami asserted that China’s objective is not only to seize control of the Senkaku Islands, but also to annex Okinawa proper (prominent Chinese scholars have indeed recently been suggesting Okinawa should belong to China). Unsurprisingly he advocates a stronger defence in the face of this threat.
The number of protesters is disputed, although international estimates of 2,000-3,000 seem reasonable. Observers point out that the Japanese media can usually be relied on to completely fabricate numbers and photography to suit its own ends, so accurate figures seem unlikely.
Almost as notable as the protests themselves is the fact that the domestic Japanese mass media has completely ignored them – all the photographs and reporting come from the international media or the people attending the protests, whilst the only “mainstream” Japanese language reporting yet visible is a single report from the Agence France-Presse.
The Internet has however provided ample publicity – 2ch and various social media, along with the websites of the protest organisers, have all contributed to raising awareness of the demonstrations.
The presence of rising sun flags and the involvement of General Tamogami was probably enough to ensure pariah handling by Japan’s servile press.
The mass media’s conspiracy to suppress reporting on the protests has not gone unnoticed – however, with traditional TV and newspaper increasingly an irrelevance to Japan’s younger generations, it is unlikely to prove an impediment to popularising opposition to Japan’s spineless political establishment.
Meanwhile the Democratic party is still vacillating over whether to release the video of the collision incident as it does not want to “stimulate” China or its own people any further. China for its part still holds one of the 4 “spies” it picked up as insurance, having finally released the rest with timing only the most credulous could consider coincidental.
A more assertive policy towards China seems likely to have to wait until the apparently inevitable decimation of the government in the next election – which the Chinese government’s own military threats against the most pro-China Japanese administration in years looks to have guaranteed.