Growing environmental consciousness and the waning influence of the JCP in the 1960s formed the background to the later formation of an antinuclear power movement. 11 The first was made up of residents in areas designated for nuclear power plant construction. Farmers and fisher folk were particularly strong supporters of the antinuclear movement. The second layer included students, workers and urban intellectuals. Up until the 1980s, antinuclear activism generally took the form of these urban layers providing support to residents in areas designated for nuclear power plant construction. Labor unions and intellectuals also served to tie the movement to the JSP and to other political parties. From the late 1960s, housewives based in the cities formed the core of the citizens’ environmental movements. After the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident, middle-class housewives turned their attention to the antinuclear movement when reports emerged of imported foodstuffs being contaminated with radioactive materials. In the 1990s, this third layer joined forces with the intellectuals and tried to promote renewable energy through social investment. 12
One reason for this was the negative public reaction to incidents of left-wing terrorism and infighting among New Left factions in the early 1970s. Even more important, however, was the stabilizing influence on Japanese society of the postwar https://tennesseepaydayloans.org/cities/elizabethton/ recovery, sustained economic growth and rising incomes. The labor movement had emerged in Japan in the 1950s in response to problems of poverty and inequality. Other social movements, such as the peace movement, arose out of memories of war. In the 1960s, the tensions associated with rapid economic growth gave rise to new social movements. From the late 1970s, however, poverty and inequality were no longer conspicuous social problems in Japan and measures were taken to deal with pollution and to improve the urban environment.
By the 1970s, farmers and fisher folk had become a minority in Japanese society. Labor unions tended to cooperate with management and lost their fighting spirit. Students were generally able to get steady jobs after graduation and many lost interest in politics. Some middle-class housewives took part in social movements. Indeed, they formed the bulwark of both the anti-nuclear weapons and anti-Vietnam War citizens’ movements. The majority of people, however, enjoyed the fruits of economic prosperity, much as people in the US did during the 1950s or in China in the 2000s.
From 1990, following the end of the Cold War, the Japanese economy stagnated. Attempts to stimulate the economy via public works spending provided a degree of economic stability. This resulted, however, in a national account deficit that became impossible to ignore. From 2001 to 2006, the government of Koizumi Jun’ichiro cut government spending, privatized the national postal service, and liberalized labor regulations, weakening the unions and labor generally. Cuts in public works spending weakened regional economies and the liberalization of labor regulations led to an increase in part-time and temporary employment. Since 2006, when Koizumi resigned the prime ministership, poverty and inequality have come to be recognized as serious social problems. An independent workers’ movement appeared made up of irregular workers that used the term “precariat” to describe their precarious position in the labor market. These movements were led by different layers than the three that made up the core of the social movements of the 1960s and 1990s as discussed above.