Making Memory by Dissociating the Past from the Present: Narratives of Movement Intellectuals of the Post-Fukushima Protest Cycle in Japan

  • Anna Wiemann (Author)


The impact of collective memory on mobilisation processes is an emerging research field in social movement studies. Adopting the perspective of “memory in activism”, which tackles the question of how memories of previous struggles shape present social movements (as proposed by Ann Rigney), this research note provides a first idea of the effect of the collective memory of the violent 1960s “New Left” protest cycle in Japan on the most recent protest cycle triggered by the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011. At their peak, these protests drew up to 200,000 participants during the summer of 2012 – a fact often downplayed in Western media coverage. As an access point to the study of the memory work pursued by and within the movement, this research note analyses written narratives of two activist intellectuals of the post-Fukushima protest cycle. The analysis shows a clear dissociation from the violent legacy of the 1960s that emphasises the distinctively peaceful character of the present protests and claims for them an equally important status in history.


Japan, Fukushima, collective memory, social movements, protest cycle, 1960s