Alternative Movements in Japan 2000

FMA : The World seen by its Peoples JAPAN
Alternative Movements in Japan 2000
-Limitations and Possibilities-

Kinhide Mushakoji


This report will try to draw an overview of the contemporary trends in the Japanese society to organize movements critical of the status quo in political and economic terms and to try to find seeds of alternative thinking often hidden in them. We。。will start from a brief reference to the Japanese civil society which emerged in the 1980s and 90s. We will point out its depoliticisation and determine the causes of this tendency which makes estremely difficult, not only alternativa thinking, but also any kind of creative thinking. We will study this lack of creativity of the Japanese civil society, and identify some seeds for hope in a possible Japanese intellectual and political contribution to the search of alternatives to the present neo-liberal hegemonic global Order/disorder.

The Japanese Civil Society/NGO Community:

There is a widely accepted myth about the growing people's power in the international civil society which antagonizes the neo-liberal global hegemony. Seattle has become an example, which has been followed by similar manifestations of the will of the civil society to seek alternatives to the now predominant 'New International Order' under U.S. hegemony opened by George Bush senior and now implemented by George (W.) Bush junior. The anti-systemic movements often take the form of 'reformist' movements. Whether this means that they are weakened and co-opted, or that they have acquired a capacity to modify the status quo by influencing the government towards an alternative future is a debatable. Perhaps, both are true, and we must try to identify seeds of genuine alternative projects from within them. The civil society is the ground where some less coopted anti-systemic movements hide seeds of alternative projects, political, economic, and cultural. It is in this connection that we will study the Japanese civil society and try to unearth some of the seeds which exist in spite of the general depolitization of this society. We will try to determine some characteristics of the Japanese movements which may be of interest to non-Japanese readers.

The emergence of the civil society, which is part of the process of globalization, takes different forms around the world. It is interesting to observe the case of Japan, which at first sight, gives hope for an alternative Japan, but on second look, divulges the serious constraints on the development of alternative political economic projects. We will try, after this second look, to unearth, so to speak, some rare seeds of alternative thinking which are hidden in this arid land for creative thinking. The 1980s was an economically prosperous 'bubble economy' period of Japan. Beside different decadent consequenses of this prosperity, like the flourishing of the globalizing sex industries, an interesting development in Japan, which has been characterized by the rule of the State, and of the Nation, and of its bureaucratic (technocratic) aparatus defined by some observers as a 'total-war state', sees the flourishing of a myriad of NGOs. A word, originally used in the UN context to define non-governmental organizations entitled to participate, under strict rules, in the debate among the member-States, is adopted in Japan to mean all sorts of voluntary associations working in and out of Japan. In Japan, where everything was controlled and guided by the government, these organizations are new in that they are non-governmental! Their emergence is then welcomed as the emergence of a civil society

According to the classification of the 'Directory of Japanese NGOs Concerned with International Cooperation', the NGOs focus their activities on such development-related topics as rural development, slum habitat, regional small-scale/cottage industry, water, appropriate technology, global environment, forestry, fishing, etc. They also touch upon human rights issues regarding women, children, disabled people, indigenous peoples, victims of calamities, incarcerated people, foreigners, refugees, etc. They also relate to 'good governance', disarmament, and 'preventive diplomacy'. They operate through networking, research, provision of information, fair trade, emergency relief, provision of materials and human resources, funding, advocacy, etc..

Irrespective of their concerns and of the modality of their activities, practically all of these NGOs are specialized in a particular issue and dedicated to a concrete task they have chosen. They cope with particular problems and serve certain groups of people. In most cases, however, most of them have no critical views about the causes of the problems they cope with or of the reasons why the needs of the peoples they serve are not satisfied adequately. This inability to formulate the problems structurally built into the present global political economy is making it extremely difficult to develop anti-systemic movements, let alone alternative projects. This difficulty is deeply rooted in the 'depoliticisation' which occurred in the 1980s in the Japanese civil society.

The Depoliticisation of the Japanese civil Society

The general orientation of the Japanese NGOs is 'non-political' in that it concentrates their efforts to help improve certain perceived problems without posing the politically crucial questions. The term 'non-political', oiften used in Japan since the 1980s, needs explanation, it means to emphacise the fact that no antagonistic activities denying the legitimacy of the government in power. This general attitude is based on a general rejection of the militant attitude of the anti-systemic movements during the 1955 system when the system was represented by the Liberal Democratic Party, the Party in Power siding with the United States, waiting for an occasion to revise the Constitution imposed by the Americans, and the Big Business. The anti-systemic movements sided with the Japan Socialist Party, the Opposition, strongly objecting the United States Cold War policy and rejecting any revision of the 'Peace Constitution', a joint product between the Japanese pacifists and the American New Dealers of the Occupation Forces. Both the LDP in Power and the JSP in opposition were pro- and anti-American and nationalist each in their ways. The former was supported by the rural traditional communities and the big business, the latter by the labour unions and the urban intellectuals.

Japanese politics was bi-polarised and stabilized by a cooperative game between the bureaucrats and the politicians, both in power and in opposition. A tacit cooperation between the LDP and the JSP who have agreed to disagree in the Parliamentary debates and then pass different legislations good for the economic growth of Japan. This domestic 'peace' was broken only by periodical people's 'uprisings', at the time the U.S.-Japan Mutual Security Treaty was to be renewed. The 1960 and 1970 were two such occasions. The 1960 Struggle succeeded in obstructing Eisenhauer visit to Japan but could not object to the automatic renewal of the Treaty. The 1970 Anti Treaty Struggle was fought as an apogee of the uprisings in the universities. It ended in a dramatic defeat of the anti-systemic movements which had been fragmented into mutually antagonistic factions. This made the generations, most active in the 1990s disillusioned by anti-systemic movements and hence depoliticised. Following the '1970 Students Uprising', Japan experienced, in the 1970s, a period of economic crisis caused by the oil shock combined with a political stagnation caused by the defeat of the anti-US-Japan Mutual Security Treaty movement of 1970. The prevailing apathy was then only broken by the anti-Vietnam War people's power. Then Japan entered in the 1980s in a period of economic 'bubble' combined with a political effort to Japanise the neo-liberal globalisation by permitting more 'free enterprise' initiatives and encouraging more civic activities, both under tight government guidance. This period when Japan was treated 'as number one' was followed in the 1990s by a period of post-bubble disarray combining the rise of an economy of passive neo-liberalism with a politics of active neo-nationalism. The new Japanese 'civil society' emerged out of this three-fold experience. The antagonistic class struggle of labour unions and mass movements had to adapt to the oil shock crisis and accept to cooperate with their opponent under the condition that they will do their best to avoid unemployment relocating the surplus labour in the sub-contracting sectors. The majority of the mass movements adopted a de-politicised stance and only a few old guard intelletuals continued to organize mass rallies and signature campaigns against the government and the corporate leadership. A new type of organizers emerged in the 1970s and grew in the 1980s. They were applying their experience obtained by their anti-Vietnam-War popular movements. Rather than to rely on organized mass organizations, they relied on the mobilizatiuon of voluntary participants to people's movements, as had been started by the Be-Hei-Ren, the Alliance for Peace in Vietnam, who ceased to rely on the Socialist or Comunist Party, or on the Unions and Student Movements in their fight against the Japan-U.S. pro-Vietnam-War cooperation. Their appeal to concerned citizens was not only an effective strategy in the 1970s when the unions and mass movements were forced to keep quiet. It proved also to be useful in preparing the age of the NGOs, when the mobilization of concerned 'volunteers' among the NGO participants was important. This is when emerged the paople's power intellectuals who continued to exercise their influence in the 1980s and 90s.

As already seen, the so-called 'oil shock' played an important role in shaping the Japanese 'civil society'. The efforts to rebuild the Japanese economy taught the Japanese nascent civil society that the Japanese should unite to build a prosperous Japan. Then came the 'bubble' economy which was perceived by the Japanese citizens as a success won by the rejection of any anti-systemic political struggle, and by a lasting peace between capital and labour. The NGOs of the 1980s emerged in such a depoliticised and economistic environment, and wanted to differentiate themselves from the anti-systemic, and anti-American peace movements of the 1960s. The extreme-left wing was in disarray, with the highjackers of the JAL Plane 'Yodo' in voluntary exile in the DPRK, and the Red Army fighting in the rank of the Palestinians, disparaged by the Japanese press as terrorists. The mounting tide from the right-wing was not yet so vocal as they would become in the 1990s, but were already actively preparing the ground for a 'Japan, as a normal State', meaning a State with a strong military force commensurate to its economic power.

In such a general de-politicised civil society, it has been extremely difficult to develop any meaningful anti-systemic activities, let alone to propose alternatives to the existing 'bubble economy'. Among the NGOs which attracted the public attention, it was natural that most of them were development NGOs dedicated to providing technical assistance such as well-digging, or human rights NGOs dedicated to the protection of the 'prisonners of conscience' abroad, or environment NGOs making efforts to develop a recycling system of garbages. Their depoliticisation was deplorable, yet we must not forget that they began to play a role to fill the domestic and international gaps which began to appear with the international neo-liberal tide began in the late 1970s by Thatcher and Reagan. The Japanese technocratic neo-Keynesian State began to fail to work positively, both in terms of its domestic care and of its international aid. Internally, the close ties between the technocrats and certain industrial sectors like construction industry, which had been praised as the secret of the success of the Japanese economy, began to create many problems.

It began, for example, to destroy the Japanese landscape and encouraged the citizens to raise their voices against all sorts of pollution issues. It began, also, to revise its traditional egalitarian policies to adjust to the international neo-liberal competition, began to revise the taxation system, to differentiate the education system, and to privatize the welfare system to build into the Japanese society more inequality judged necessary to make it more competitive. This led the civil society to organize itself and develop its own system for redistribution, education and social cares. Social movements such as consumer movements, workers collectives, permanent education classes organized by citizen movements, and different types of cares for old-aged people, for foreigners, for minorities, began to proliferate.

The civil society was also unable to overlook the negative effects of the Japanese international economic activities where the technocrats of the State and of the corporations joined forces in exploiting the growing technological capacity of Japan's neighbors, whose cheap labour provided a favorable condition to transfer the sub-contracting and sub-sub-contracting layers of the Japanese stratified production system. The official development assistance as well as different types of lawns to the countries ready to accept Japanese capital was used in preparing the infrastructure for the Japanes capital inflow into their economy. The bubble economy combined with the coordinated efforts between the government and the corporate sector created environment degradation, inequitable labour conditions in the East and South East Asian countries. It generated unfair trade relations, 'illegal' labour migration and trafficking into Japan. The Japanese civil society counteracted to all these problems by organizing different types of 'NGOs', some dealing with deforestation created by the Japanese firms, other developing 'alternative trade', other again building shelters for trafficked Asian women.

Among these NGOs, some are influencing the depoliticised civil society helping the citizens to think by themselves about alternative ways of organizing the society. Economically, the consumer collectives and workers collectives raise awareness about the possibility and necessity to develop alternatives ways to organize consumption and production. An alternative peace movement which educates the young generation better than the traditional ones is the 'Peace Boat' which organizes cruises to different regions to expose the cruisers, old and young, to the different power political realities. Their visit of the PDRK is a good example of their educational role indispensable to change zenophobic attitutdes of the Japanese citizens.

It was, however, only a small sector of these Japanese so-called NGOs, and of the intellectuals supporting them, that developed a critical attitude towards the political and the economic situation in which the State of Japan had entered, with its bubble economy led by the hidden hands of the technocrats in the government and the corporate sector. This small sector had to overcome the dominant depoliticised intellectual environment prevailing in the Japanese civil society.

Then came the time new organizers were needed. Among the miriads of de-politicised NGOs, it became necessary to introduce some free spaces for discussion where political and structural issues could be raised. It was necessary to avoid becoming rejected as old-fasahioned, meaning politically antagonistic to the government and the corporate elites. The NGO organizers found a legitimate pretext to become critical of these rooling political forces. It was the various Plans of Action issued by the UN Global Conferences. They developed a particular strategy to organize the concerned citizens through NGO networks with critical orientations internationally legitimized.

Emergence of Anti-Systemic Movements:

It was。。in this de-politicised Japanese civil society of the 1980s and 90s, that a few anti-systemic movements with seminal alternative thinking began to emerge。。in and out of the NGO community. They were no more anti-systemic in the traditional meaning of the term, having no project to overthrow the ruling regime. They were still anti-systemic in raising key issues which put into question the sustainability and legitimacy of the system. The presence of some 'survivors' of the 1960s and 70s served as catalitic agents and the series of UN sponsored NGO Forums provided the framework for the network building of these movements. The Japanese de-politicised NGOs, at least some of them, were awakened to the need of a critical review of the neo-liberal globalization which was creating the issues they were working on. Such awakenning was made possible by the combined efforts of three generations of anti-systemic intellectuals who emerged out of the political changes which occurred in Japan since the 1960s.

We will take just some examples from the different anti-systemic movements led by the three types of intellectuals, and see how some alternative thinking emerge from their interactions. From the first generation, we will report on two examples, one of a small movement based on a common front strategy ralying workers, small business, rural organizations, citizens, even reaching homeless, the jishu heiwa minshu no tame no Kohan na Kokumin Rengo or the Broad National Alliance for Autonomy, Peace and Democracy which combines an anti-U.S.-Japan-Military-Alliance movement with denunciation of neo-liberal global standards endangering the livelihood of the social sectors forming this movement. Another mass movement we will report on is the Buraku Liberation League (BLL) organizing the Buraku people (the Japanese out-caste) which has succeded in organizing a network of the different minority movements in Japan. On the second generation, we will focus on PARC and all the different off-shoots of this people's power movement. The third category of NGO organizers will be represented by two follow-up networks of UN Conferences, the People's Forum 2001 following-up the Rio Environment Summit and the Beijing JAC following up the Beijing Women Conference, both networks include a critical alternative orientation which is consciously animated by the third type of intellectuals, the NGO organizers.

a) The Old Guard initiatives-the BNA and the BLL
1. The Broad National Alliance for Autonomy, Peace, and Democracy (BNA):
Let us begin our tour d'horizon of the anti-systemic movements with two examples from the old guards. Their influence on the civil society are quite different, one small but divercified, representing different social categories, the other large based on the Buraku people. They however have one aspect in common. Their base is different from the NGOs which organizes citizens according to issues and not social origin, they represent the 'civil society' and constitute the main stream of movements in the Japanese society. They use different approaches to organize meetings, they call upon not independent individuals but organizations and movements. Such strategies are now used only in coping with special 'political' issues generally avoided by the NGOs, such as opposing American bases, especially supporting the Okinawa people in their anti-U.S.-Base struggle, or oppose the Government anti-DPRK (North Korea) policies, etc.. The following two examples are different in that they constitute movements in themselves. .

The first example is the Heiwa, Minshu, Jishu no tame no Kohan na Kokumin Rengo or the 'Broad National Alliance for Peace, Democracy and Autonomy'. This 'Alliance' which was founded in 1989 at the time of the Malta Summit between the U.S.A and the Soviet Union,. is composed by individuals belonging to radical labour unions, peasant movements, mopvements of Middle and Small Industries, and intellectuals. The official Representatives are led by Mr. Makieda, former Secretary General of the Nikkyoso (National Union of Educators) and of Sohyo (the All Japan Coalition of Labout Unions). This organization calls itself 'national' an expression which is alien from the NGO community which insists on their global identity. The Alliance is different in that it keeps an antagonistic stance against the government which characterised the pre 1970 peple's movements. It opposed itself to the hegemonic policies of the United States, as it did so immediately following its birth, against the Gulf War. It opposes itself to the American Bases, and especially proclaims that Japan will be lost if its 'continues to follow a path lacking autonomy, always looking at the U.S.A. for instruction.' . It wants Japan to follow, both domestically and internationally, an autonomous, pacific, and democratic orientation.'

It is within this context that this Alliance, which include among its members many workers and owners of small industries most seriously affected by the imposition of neo-liberal 'global standards' causing the bankruptcy of many of them, that this movement is opposed to the deregulation of the Japanese political economy. It supports the local fights of the lower middle class citizens, for example raise voice against the imposition of 'global standards' which causes the bankruptcy of the Japanese Towel industry.

An extreme case of the broad social base of the Alliance is the Osaka Section of the National Alliance which includes among its members the organizers of the homeless in the Kamagasaki District of day-contract workers. Mostly composed by men who have come to Osaka to send home their remittancfe to thgeir families in the poorer regions of Japan. Those who were unable to find permanent jobs are forced to work in different construction sites for a minimum wage under contracts only for one day, They are unable to send home their remittance and become cut off their home villages and work in extreme isolation. The Kamagasaki district is known for its extreme poverty where the inhabitants live in small rooms of cheap delabrated hotels. Among the day-contract workers, the homeless are those who could not earn enough money to pay for these roome. They live in tents, and often are the object of forced eviction by the Osaka city police. The Osaka Section of the National Alliance is working with them, organizing them into tent village communities and supporting their law cases. This is an example where the Alliance is able to reach more of the excluded people than most of the NGOs.

Unlike the NGOs which have difficulty in rooting themselves in the local traditional communities, the meetings of the National Alliance, especially when locally organized, show an unusual capacity in mobilizing the workers, self-employed people, small business owners, and other people of social categories, normally living outside of the 'civil society' organized by the NGOs, In different localities, all around Japan.

The Alliance does not represent the larger sector of the different social strata of the depoliticised Japan. It mobilizes, however, a small but active sector of the activists and intellectuals, not only old 'survivors' but also young militants, dissatisfied by the 'non-political' unions and movements of their respective social categories.

This enables the Alliance to adopt a more clear antagonistic strategy denunciating the Japan-American military alliance and political-economic hegemonism. It has no established alliance with the NGO community. However, the 2000 Okinawa G8 Summit gave an occasion for the Alliance to call upon PARC and some NGOs to organize activities in Okinawa and especially in the main islands fo Japan in support of the Okinawa anti-base struggle. The Alliance organized an internet group debate called 'chainusbase'.

The Alliance is not stiff in its antagonistic strategy. It knows the need to be conciliatory, when it can be done without concession to the system. Recently it adopted a conciliatory approach to coping with the Governement's pro-Busch stance, and wants to propose a new U.S.-Japan Peace and Friendship Treaty to replace the present Security Treaty. Here, the search is to heal Japan and the United States from the evils jointly generated by the two States. It is again a project of reconciliation which prevails in spite of the antagonistic strategy of this old guard movement uncontaminated by the NGOs' depoliticised civic culture.

2. The Buraku Liberation League(BLL):
The second example is of a quite different scale, whereas the above mentioned Alliance is gathering together the disparate elements which composed in the old days the common front of unions and mass movements, the following example represents the practically only mass (non-union) movement which survives now at the age of NGOs. It is the Buraku Liberation League which has now decided to play the NGO networking game and has networked the minority movements in Japan into a cross-border anti-discrimination movement.

The idea to form a cross-border movement, this time, of the discriminated peoples, came from an entirely different part of the Japanese civil society. It came from the Buraku Liberation League which is, unlike PARC and most of the other Japanese NGOs, a mass-based movement of the Buraku-min. Founded in 1922, one year before the Communist Party of Japan, the Buraku Liberation Movement called itsself the Suihe-Sha, or the Levellers Association. Its Declaration proclaimed that the time ofliberation hadcome, that it was those who live in the dark and cold part of the society who could bring light and warmth to the peopples of the world. Theywere calling for allthe discriminated peoples of the world to join in to liberate themselves.

This internationalist project, however, could not be applied in those days, and the Buraku Liberation Movement had todevelop acommon front with the labour unions and with the proletarian Parties. Even after theWorld War II, their liberation could not materialize itself, in spite of the official denial that Buraku discriminations were still tolerated. In order to fight against this denial of discrimination made by the Government and by different sectors of the Japanese majority, among religions, in the world of business, or in education, the Buraku Liberation League developed what was called the Denunciation Sessions where those who had committed any kind of discriminations against the Buraku peoples were convoked and asked to make public their motives for their discriminatory words and deeds. This strategy, which was first taking sometimes a violent form, due to the social tensions which exploded on the occasion of these meetings, succeeded in improving the general public opinion, by having manybusiness firms and religious organizations institutionalize in their personnel departments, a special section charged with the prevention of Buraku discrimination.

The 1960s,on the other hand, saw an improvement in the Government's attitude towards the Buraku people, and a legislation to promote Buraku liberation by establishing special institutions like community houses where literacy classes were organized. From a militant anti-government stance, the BLL entered in the 1960s into a phase where their major objective became the adoption of a Basic Law forBuraku Liberation. The difficulty in obtaining enough support inside Japan led the leaders of the BLL to come back to their original internationalist Declaration. The fact that the international concern about human rights had begun to be recognized in the Japan of the 1980s,made the BLL seek to develop an international movement to fight against discrimination and racism. It was thanks to an agreement between the UN human rights community and the BLL, the former represented by Mme. Miriam Schreiber, the wife of the late Dr. Schreiber, Director of the UN Centre for Human Rights, andherself President of the International Abolitionists, and the latter by Mr. Uesugi, the President of the BLL, that a new NGO, called the International Movement Against All Forms of Discriminations and Racism (IMADR) was founded. This international NGO, who obtained the Ecosoc NGO Rostrum Status, provided, for the first time in the history of the minorities in Japan, a meeting ground for the different minorities, the Buraku people, the Ainu people, the Okinawa people, the oversea Koreans. Their joint action, made full use of all the legal and political means developed within the UN Human Rights regime.

The BLL in close cooperation with IMADR has developed a series of activities linking the Japanese minorities with the UN Human Rights machineries in Geneva. IMADR represent them in the different for a, the Commission, the Sub-Commission, the CERD (Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination) and other working groups, and lobby for them in close collaboration with other human rights NGOs. It has organized inside Japan a coalition of NGOs to prepare a Counter Report to the Japanese Government National Report presented in 2001 to CERD. This enabled the minorities to work with non-minority human rights NGOs including the prestigious Japan Bar Association.

Inside Japan, the BLL succeeded in having the Japanese Government establish a Committee advisory to the Prime Minister to prepare legislations on Human Rights Promotion and Protection. It organized the Human Rights Forum 21, a minority NGO alliance which make concrete proposals to the government Advisory Committee. This is a typical example where an 'old stile' mass organization uses its political, mobilizing and organizational power in cooperation with new NGOs to develop a network with sufficient influence on the public opinion to force the government, uneager to take up human rights issues, to prepare a new human rights legislation and setting up a national human rights commission to cope with the discrimination of the different minorities in Japan. This initiative is of great importance because it creates a new alliance between a traditional mass movement with a strong capacity to mobilize its members in the different regions of Japan with a group of NGOs who can use their capacity to gather information, prepare research, and organize loby activities, and thus help the mass movement too heavy for these tasks which need the flexibility of the NGOs to be achieved satisfactorily. The new human rights 'front' developed by the BLL is anti-systemic in that it poses the basic issue of the Japanese contemporary State and society, i.e. it puts into question the basic assumption that, if it wants to be successfully survive in the present global competition. Japan must be well integrated into a monolithic collectivity, discriminating the minorities in order to strengthen the unity of the majority Japanese. It proposes, in this way, an alternative pluralistic and non-conformist Japan in which no discrimination is permitted for its survival.

b) The People's Power initiatives-PARC:
The 1970s was a period of reflection and reorganization for the Japanese anti- systemic movements. It was from the 'non-sectarian' anti-Vietnam-War movement, which was neither organized by political parties and labour unions nor composed by certain factions of the fragmented student movement, that new initiatives appeared. This included Christian feminists who developed an anti-sex-tourism movement openning new ties of cooperation with South Koreans and other Asian neighbours. This movement first raised the problem of the 'Comfort Women' military sexual Slavery twenty years before it became officially recognised by the Japanese civil society. One of the feminist leaders of this movement was Yayori Matsui who has been closely associating with another movement, PARC, the people's power movement on which we will concentrate our attention.

In 1969, the Be-Hei-Ren (the Alliance for Peace in Vietnam) began to publish an English journal 'AMPO' under the leadership of Ichiyo Muto. It was under the innitiative of this leader of the anti-War movement critical of the internal fight between the Japanese traditional Party-based peace movements, and with the cooperation of other international-minded activists such as Yoko Kitazawa, that PARC (the Pacific Asia Resource Centre) was founded. This new movement developed a new form of movement based on individual membership of concerned citizens irrespective of their political positions, and internationally oriented especially towards the Asian neighbours as was symbolized by PARC's affiliation to ACFOD (the Asian Cultural Forum on Development).

The citizen's movement developed by PARC has played an important role in the emerging civil society of Japan by becoming an NGO with a clear political economic project, a rare case in the depoliticised environment of the 1980s. It succeeded by setting the example, to gather together NGOs which had, from before, no active interest in cooperating with other NGOs adopting a common project. The initiative it has taken in organizing PP21 has beenof great importance because it helped breaking the ice, so to speak, and permit NGOs with different concerns towork together. It was under the initiative of Ichiyo Muto that the PP21 Campaign was developed in a very clever manner. Rather than to invite the different movements to join in a single mass raley, the People's Plan was discussed in separate meetings, organized by different groups. Peasants, ecologists, women, etc., organized in different parts of Japan their own meetings. It was only after they have discussed among themselves that they met together at Minamata, where they agreed to adopt a common declaration, the Minamata Declaration. The basic message of this declaration was not to propose analternative world order, but to invite all those who aimed at some alternative worlds to form a cross-border citizen movement.

c) The NGO Initiatives-the People's Forum 2001 and Beijing JAC:
It was the international contacts with the UN-related NGO community and the inter-generational cooperation between the activists of the 19970s with the post-Cold-War generation that helped form such critical alternative movements.

The impacts of the UN-related NGO community on the Japanese NGOs has been an historically new type of intellectual enculturation the Japanese civil society experianced. Until the United Nations held its Global Conferences to which many NGOs participated from Japan, the Japanese intellectuals were accustomed, either to be tought about the 'outside world' by the rare students who had received scholarship and visited the West, which was after 1945 overwhelmingly North America. Otherwise, it was through books and other types of publications that new thoughts were learned through a few the intermediaries, interpreters of foreign literature. The UN Conferences in the 1990s, the Rio Environment Summit (1992), the Vienna World Conference on Human Rights (1993), the Cairo Human Population Conference (1993), the Beijing Conference on Women (1995), and the Istanbul Habitat II(1956) provided occasions for the Japanese NGO community to participate in these world events, and establish contacts with outside NGOs not only from Asia but from all regions of the world. As a consequence, the NGO leaders who attended these conferences formed with other NGOs which had not been able to send representatives, what they came to call 'follow-up networks' which were dedicated to pressurise the Japanese Government to keep the commitments it made on the occasion of these meetings, which have each been summarised in the plans of action adopted by consensus at each of these conferences.

These NGO networks were composed by small NGO groups each working on their own cut-off from not only the international NGO community, but in most cases from other NGOs working on separate problems. Their internal discussion and joint lobying created new forums for dialogue, which by their very nature could not avoid take a critical attitude towards the Japanese government's policies, in terms of environment, human rights, social development, population policy, gender, and habitat. Among them, we will report here about the NGO follow-up networks which emerged out of the 1992 Rio Summit, the Peoples' Forum 2001 and the one which was formed after the Beijing Conference on Women, the Beijing JAC (Japan Accountability Caucus). In both cases, the large networks of ecologists and of feminists were not able to adopt an anti- systemic project in themselves. Nevertheless, they provided a place for alternative thinking to develop and eventually gather supporters of change.

Among the 'follow-up networks' of UN Conferences, the following ones can bementioned ashaving facilitated the formation of anti-systemic and alternative thinking, i.e. the People's Forum 2001 which have organized the Japanese NGO community which has participated in the Rio Environment Summitand the Biejing JAC(Japan Accountabilityy Forum) which was founded by the NGOs which have participated in the Beijing Women Conference.

1. The People's Forum 2001:
The People's Forum 2001 closed itself on the 31 March 2001. After having been founded as a followup forum for UNCED, and having spent a few years todevelop follow-up activities with the UNCED Follow-up Committee and the Committee for Agenda 21, this NGO network focussed its activities on several specific themes such as the 'global warming', 'energy problems', and 'trade and evironment'. The Forum also developed international links local/global and North/South. The disenchantment about its original objectives, to organize the civil society in view of achieving sustainable developmentin in the 21st century, followed the neo-liberal process of globalization.

The Secretary General of the Forum, Tomoko Sakuma, exercised her initiative in raising the public awareeness about the negative effects on the environment of several neo-liberal initiatives, organizing campaigns against MAI and the WTO. It was an interesting fact that the need to seek alternatives to neo-liberal economy became a major concern of many young members of the Forum who were initially only concerned about environment issues.。。It was unfortunate that the Forum had to be disbanded due to organizational and financial difficulties. Some of the valuable initiatives such as the WTO Mailinglist remain active, and has become a stronghold of the anti-WTO campaign.

2. Beijing JAC:
The other movement formed under the influence of the UN NGO community is the coalitions of feminist organizations which were founded on the occasion of the UN Conference for Women of 1980 and then of 1995. The first has been led by the old generation liberal feminists who have worked under Fusae Ichikawa from before the World War II to obtain for women suffrage, and succeeded in obtaining the ratification of CEDAW and then continued to put pressure on the Japanese government to obtain the legislation of a Fundamental Law to Build a Society of Gender-Equality (in Japanese 'a Society based on Co-Participation of Men and Women') in 1998. This movement itself was a coalition of women movements including Christian, socialist and other feminists. They raised issues of gender equality but were unable to develop any critical approaches denouncing and decontructing the Japanese patriarchal society beyond liberal feminism. A new coalition of younger feminists, some liberal but other Marxist, and post-modernists, have organized a new caucus after the Beijing Conference on Women, calling themselves Beijing JAC (Japan Accountability Caucus). As an accountability caucus, Beijing JAC is concerned only by the implementation of the Beijing Platform of Action. In this sense it is not an anti-systemic movement, except in the sense that it raises all sorts of issues involving gender inequality. There are, however, in this feminist network some seeds of a new critical feminism. This is a fact which was symbolized by the initiative of Seiko Hanochi, who was the first Secretary General of Beijing JAC, who organized the regional feminist caucusses from different regions of Japan and developed in cooperation with the American feminists the Beijing plus 5 Global Symposia of Women in support of the UN Beijing plus 5 General Assembly Session in 2000. Hanochi, a feminist influenced by Antonio Gramsci, has given to the programme of these symposia a strong emphasis on the negative impacts of neo-liberal economy on gender inequalities. This is why the meeting attended by many feminist leaders of different regions of the World focussed their deliberation on a feminist critique of the contemporary political economy. An initiative which indicated that a new trend has appeared within the Beijing JAC network of feminists highly sensitive to the negative implications of globalization shared by the feminists with other social forces critical of this global trend affecting now the post-bubble Japan.

The importance of a close convergence between this UN based endogenous organization of citizens movements with endogenous initiatives of the people's power intellectuals based on Japan-specific concerns is also clear in the case of feminists. The Beijing JAC has been dealing with the questions of poverty and with the gender aspects of official development assistance. This is where they received the active input from Yoko Kitazawa, one of the founders of PARC, who has been also one of the founding members of this feminist NGO network, who played a major role in launching it during the Beijing Conference. Her commitment to the cause of human development and her insight about the structural causes of poverty in the South, all part of the message of PARC, is giving to Beijing JAC the necessary intelectual leadership to develop a critical analysis of the effects of the neo-liberal global economy on women in the developing regions. The message from the UN Beijing Conference about the need to overcome the feminization of poverty received, in this way, a critical interpretation thanks to the input from the anti-systemic PARC intellectual tradition. Another example of the connection between the UN based feminist activities and the initiatives from the people's power generation of the 1970s can be found in the field of violence against women, especially the 'Comfort Women' case. The Beijing JAC includes one thematic caucus which aims at overcoming the imperialist/militarist past symbolized by the 'Comfort Women' Military Sexual Slavery. This member of Beijing JAC closely cooperates with the Asian Women Resource Centre of Yayoi Matsui, which important alternative orientation is again closely related to the PARC initiative endogenously developed within the Japanese political and economic realities.

The above examples indicate how new critical alternative thinking has emerged in the 1990s thanks to the international efforts of the third generation UN NGO intellectuals supported by the first generation organization like the BLL, and the second generation intellectuals related to PARC.

The Hidden Seeds of Alternative Thinking

As we saw above there are Japanese movements which work closely with their allies in the world. Some of them have alternative orientations as we saw above. The way they formulate their alternative projects have, often, something different from alternative movements abroad. Other movements are immersed in the Japanese society. Their objectives are primarilly local, but their project includes some messages which are worthwhile listening for alternative movements outside of Japan.

What are these characteristics which characterize the Japanese alternative movements, open to the world or closed in their local community?

Firstly, the Japanese alternative movements do not hold alternative future projects as most alternative movements do around the world. They do not hold an alternative image of the future, but formulate their projects, rooting them in the past, and presenting them as an effort to overcome undisirable past rather than proposing a desirable future.

Secondly their insistence on continuity and change give them an historical background, sometimes openly stated sometimes secretly implied. They all tackle with the history of the modernization of Japan.

Thirdly, the alternative projects are practically all concerned with reconciliation, within or without the communities, and/or in and out of the State of Japan. Even human rights movements insist on overcoming discrimination perceived as inadmissible not necessarily as a breach of individual freedom and political rights, but as an inadmissible treatment of certain minority communities by the majority civil society.

The emphasis of reconciliation is quite different from the approach of alternative movements seeking individual freedom, equality, and rights. Reconciliation implies a transformation in the mentality of the social categories and groups involved, and not the elimination of certain practices by force, even when it is imposed by force.

The return of Fusako Shigenobu from Syria, and of the highjackers of the JAL Plane 'Yodo' from North Korea have been symptomatic of this renunciation on using violent means to achieve a world revolution.

The broad opinion which prefered to make personal donation as 'atonement money' to the victims in place of a Japanese State apologies and reparation to the victims of the 'Comfort Women' military sexual slavery is another manifestation, negative in our opinion, of the Japanese tendency to seek more reconciliation than legal solution. It has a positive aspect when it seeks to combine both legal means to correct the evil from the outside, with a process of repentance and reconciliation from within the actors involved. The case of the Buraku Liberation League denunciation strategy is a typical example of a reconciliation strategy.

Reconciliation, in this way, implies both the pedagogy of the oppressed and a pedagogy of the oppressors, gives to the alternative movements a long range objective, which is to raise the consciousness of the society. This educational process has to be developed in the specific historical context where the wrong structures of exploitation have。。 grown. The example of the Asian Women Resource Centre, especially the Citizen's Court it organized to seek not a legal justice but a people's awareness of historical evils leading to reconciliation is typical of this educational aspect of the Japanese alternative movements.

Reconciliation gives a special meaning to the efforts of alternative movements to develop a bottom-up structural transformation process. The Japanese alternative movements stress mopre than theoretical clarity, the importance of solidarity among the agents of transformation and of reconciliation. They do not want to build an abstractly formulated alternative society replacing the existing one, but rather to start a snow-ball effect in the civil society transforming it by reconciling with an ever increasing number of the citizens siding with the status quo. It implies to give precedence to human relations rather than to expediency and means-end rationality. Rather than to discuss abstractly the structures, it seeks to create an alliance among the peoples affected by the structure and those affecting them, and create an ever broadening common front. Such front is not necessarily built on shared theories, but it develops common theories by acting together. The case of PARC and of PP21 are typical of this bottom-up praxis-based strategy different from Western movements which assume that a well articulated shared project has to preexist any common actions.