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Transnational Japan in the Global Environmental Movement$

Simon Avenell

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780824867133

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824867133.001.0001

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Pollution Export and Victimhood

Pollution Export and Victimhood

(p.112) Chapter 4 Pollution Export and Victimhood
Transnational Japan in the Global Environmental Movement

Simon Avenell

University of Hawai'i Press

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores Japanese transnational movements opposing the relocation of polluting Japanese industries to countries throughout East Asia. The chapter begins with an analysis of the important Conference of Asians in 1974 which brought together Asian activists in Tokyo to discuss instances of environmental pollution and violations of human rights throughout East Asia. The chapter then explores four case studies involving transnational movements opposing so-called “pollution export” to South Korea, Thailand, and the Philippines. Although these movements met with mixed success, the attention they brought to Japanese corporate transgressions abroad meant that relocation of polluting industries became more and more difficult thereafter. These transnational mobilizations also offered Japanese activists a unique opportunity to put their domestic struggles in context and to question their sense of victimhood.

Keywords:   Japanese pollution export, East Asia, Kawatetsu, Mitsubishi

The UN conference in Stockholm was an eye-opening experience for the Japanese pollution victims and their supporters, thanks in part to the remarkable media and public attention they received, but also for what the group learned about Japanese corporate pollution worldwide. Activists, journalists, and delegates from other countries—especially East Asia—confronted the Japanese with troubling reports about the environmentally destructive activities of Japanese industry: pollutive mining operations in the Philippines, logging in Malaysia and Indonesia, and industrial plants in Singapore.1 As Ui Jun frankly admitted, until Stockholm he and others had not really thought about the Japanese “economic invasion” of Asia, overwhelmed as they were with their concern about pollution at home and their desire to communicate this story abroad. But the conference had forced them to carefully reconsider Japan’s role in bolstering and perpetuating injustices elsewhere; the ways, for example, Japan was buttressing authoritarian regimes in East Asia, supporting the US war in Vietnam, and damaging living environments and human health—all to support an affluent daily life back home.2 As sociologist Isomura Eiichi opined in an essay after UNCHE, “From the perspective of Asians, Japan is a ‘factory owner’ and Asians are the ‘workers.’ This factory owner takes resources from Asia back to the Japanese archipelago where they are processed and then sold back to the ‘workers’ at a high price. In the process, the resources of these workers’ countries are ravaged, the natural environment is destroyed, and the standard of living does not necessarily improve.”3 Addressing this “pollution export” from Japan to Asia would become the primary focus of Japanese transnational environmental activism throughout the 1970s. It would involve establishing (p.113) new connections with East Asian activists and movements, communicating the story of Japanese industrial pollution throughout the region, and implementing a range of transnational initiatives to address the problem head on. It would also necessitate a fundamental rethinking of strategy and objectives on the part of Japanese groups involved.

In this chapter I focus on the ways the pollution export problem complicated ideas of environmental injustice fashioned in the domestic struggle. In its international iteration before and during UNCHE, the Japanese environmental injustice paradigm spoke powerfully to the human limits to growth. Japanese pollution victims served—quite unproblematically—as living proof of these limits. But the effect was somewhat different when this local Japanese experience of injustice was projected on to a regional canvas. In the first place, it forced the Japanese activists involved to carefully reconsider the supposed “resolution” of Japanese industrial pollution in the early 1970s, exemplified, for instance, by victories in the Big Four pollution law suits, the 1970 Pollution Diet, and visibly cleaner living environments. Activists began to wonder about the legitimacy of local victories if they resulted in industry simply relocating pollution, environmental destruction, and human injustice to some locality overseas. If the state and its regulatory framework had simply become tools to protect Japanese localities at the expense of those abroad, were not these localities implicated in the overseas pollution perpetrated by Japanese corporations?

Such questions destabilized a powerful assumption that had galvanized the struggle against environmental injustice from its origins in the domestic pollution crisis of the 1960s: namely, that the activists or the people they spoke for were necessarily and unproblematically positioned on the side of victims. As they reached out to the sufferers and opponents of Japanese pollution export throughout East Asia, these activists encountered, again and again, a troubling narrative that connected the country’s colonial and military legacy to its contemporary pollutive activities—a continuous, unbroken history of injustice and discrimination toward the region. Indeed, pollution export exposed the limitations of an environmental injustice paradigm permeated by a consciousness of victimhood anchored in a distinctive national experience. To be sure, empathy based on the shared experience of environmental injustice continued to be a source of motivation and transnational solidarity for the Japanese groups I examine in the chapter. But the fact that those others happened to be in a region formerly colonized and brutalized by the Japanese military and now ravaged by Japanese industrial activity (p.114) disrupted any seamless notions of an alliance of victims. This tension between solidarity and aggression in the regional iteration of environmental injustice proved to be one of its most challenging and, I would argue, transformative moments.

I begin the chapter with some background on the spread of Japanese industry into East Asia in the 1970s, followed by analysis of the landmark Conference of Asians held in Tokyo in 1974. This defining event brought together activists from antipollution groups, the anti–Vietnam War movement (Beheiren), and from East Asia. Activists such as Oda Makoto of Beheiren encouraged antipollution activists to consider the limitations of environmental injustice framed through the lens of victimhood alone. Instead, Oda pushed his environmentalist colleagues to consider their simultaneous “aggression” toward Asia. Mobilizations against specific instances of pollution export in the early 1970s further encouraged this reconsideration of victimhood. I analyze four seminal examples in the chapter: the 1973–1974 action against the Asahi Glass Corporation in Thailand; two actions against the Toyama Chemical Company and the Nippon Chemical Company in South Korea, both beginning in 1974; and the protest against Kawasaki Steel’s sintering operations in the Philippines from late 1975. All four cases provide fascinating insights into the ways regional involvement encouraged activists to rethink domestic “victories” and notions of victimhood. In Thailand and the Philippines, Japanese groups discovered a troubling replication of Japanese corporate pollution, while in South Korea they had to face the troubling continuities between pollution export in the present and Japanese colonialism and aggression in the past. One concrete outcome of these encounters was the establishment of the Han-Kōgai Yushutsu Tsūhō Sentā (Antipollution Export Information Center, AEIC) in 1976. Born as an alliance of antipollution export groups, the AEIC became the organizational hub for activists committed to transforming their earlier campaign as environmental “victims” into a proactive and reflexive program opposing Japanese industrial “aggression” in Asia and beyond. Once again, leading activists like Ui Jun played a key role as rooted cosmopolitans, forging intellectual and organizational connections between movements at home and in Asia. They were the ones who encouraged local groups to reposition the local in wider and often unsettling frameworks of inequity. Moreover, by shining a light on pollution export, they helped to “boomerang” pressure back on to responsible corporations such that by the late 1980s the costs to corporate public image tended to outweigh the benefits.

(p.115) From Pollution Miracle to Pollution Export

As T. J. Pempel and others have noted, Japan’s economic links with Asia began to intensify in the 1970s thanks to the collapse of the Bretton Woods monetary system in 1971, the dramatic increase in crude oil prices following the first oil shock of 1973, and the subsequent regulatory easing on capital outflows.4 What had previously been a relationship based on simple trade now began to encompass more foreign direct investment (FDI) by Japanese industry. In the period between 1973 and 1976, Japanese FDI into Asia essentially doubled that of the previous twenty years combined.5 Significantly, the composition of this FDI changed in the early 1970s, with greater emphasis on “energy-intensive, highly polluting sectors like chemicals, iron and steel, and nonferrous metals.”6

Antipollution activists recognized that various factors were fueling the growth of Japanese FDI in Asia. In 1974, Ui Jun stated unequivocally that cheap wages and resources were the primary factors driving Japanese FDI growth in Asia and that stricter domestic antipollution regulations were only a “minor” factor in the corporate decision-making matrix.7 Broadly speaking he was correct, but there is no doubt that tougher regulation, coupled with a wave of domestic protest, played a role in the relocation decisions of corporations involved in the more pollutive industries such as petrochemicals and extractive metallurgy. Thanks to research by Derek Hall, we know that pollution export was a deliberate state and corporate strategy in the 1970s, and, for a time, that elites in both sectors were “remarkably forthright” about this.8 In mid-1970, for example, the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) partially justified a new fund for the relocation of petrochemical industries offshore by pointing to the restraining effect of pollution opposition on new domestic constructions.9 Just one month later, the giant Mitsubishi Corporation confirmed this evaluation, noting site acquisition difficulties in Japan as a factor in its decision to build an oil refinery in Southeast Asia.10 As late as 1975, an official from Kawasaki Steel (hereafter Kawatetsu [as known in Japan]) made the following blatant admission during civil proceedings to stop the company constructing a sixth blast furnace at its Chiba Prefecture plant:

Although a sintering plant is an indispensable part of a steel plant, it also produces more air polluting materials than any other part of the plant. Therefore, we at Kawatetsu have decided to build the new sintering (p.116) plant which is needed for the no.6 blast furnace in a foreign country instead of within the Chiba plant. … This decision … will enable us to drastically reduce the amount of discharge of polluted materials. The new sintering plant is now under construction in Mindanao [in] the Philippines, as part of Japan’s economic aid to that country.11

At the receiving end, Asian leaders and dictators welcomed Japan’s polluting industries with open arms. South Korean president Park Chung-hee actively supported the entry of these industries into the country through a combination of watered-down pollution regulations and suppression or cooptation of local protest.12 In 1973 Park nonchalantly stated that “for the purposes of the industrial development of our country, it will be best not to worry too much about pollution problems.”13 Elite attitudes were no more enlightened in Southeast Asia. In the Philippines the corrupt dictator, President Ferdinand Marcos, allowed Kawatetsu to have 100 percent owner ship of a highly polluting sintering plant (alluded to in the quote above) on Mindanao Island. A 1974 report by the activist publication AMPO: Japan-Asia Quarterly Review noted how Marcos unilaterally approved the plant even though the Philippines Board of Investment was still considering its economic merit and environmental impact. By the time Japanese prime minister Tanaka Kakuei visited the country in early 1974, the establishment of the Kawatetsu-owned and -operated Philippine Sinter Corporation was essentially a done deal.14 Like his kindred spirit President Park in South Korea, Marcos told the Japanese in 1976 that the Philippines would “be happy to take … polluting industries off your hands.”15

So, while domestic environmental regulation and protest and hospitable foreign governments do not totally explain Japan’s economic advance into Asia in the 1970s, there is no doubt they were a consideration, especially for the dirtiest industries. More pertinently, many Japanese activists became convinced that corporate pursuit of pollution havens lay at the core of the country’s FDI boom in the region, and this conviction formed the basis of their mobilizations against it.

Regional Solidarity: The Conference of Asians, 1974

In response to this wave of Asian FDI, and on the initiative of the charismatic antiwar campaigner and novelist Oda Makoto, in June 1974 activists from the Japanese anti–Vietnam War movement Beheiren, Christian groups, and Ui Jun’s ILP movement organized the inaugural Conference of Asians (p.117) to bring together progressives from the region to consider the nature and extent of Japan’s relationship with other Asian nations.16 Apart from opening their eyes to a range of inequities and injustices throughout the region, the conference also served as a critical opportunity for some activists associated with the ILP to reconsider the notion of “victimhood” deeply informing ideas about injustice in the Japanese environmental movement. Oda Makoto and other Beheiren activists played a critical role in stimulating this reconsideration, because they had spent the better part of a decade thinking about Japanese complicity in the Vietnam War and, hence, offered environmental activists a sophisticated analysis of Japan’s simultaneous “victimhood” and “aggression”—as a quasi-colony of the United States on the one hand, and as an active supporter of the US campaign in Indochina on the other. Indeed, the conference is worth considering in detail because it was an important 1970s moment of transnational connection between local Japanese groups and their Asian counter parts, which stimulated significant ideational transformations relating to understandings of the local, injustice, and victimhood. We can see in it the ways transnational interaction fostered new ways of thinking within domestic civic movements in Japan.

The Conference of Asians ran for seven days from June 8 to 16, 1974, and involved around 250 participants, forty of whom traveled from six countries throughout East Asia, including South Korea, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia. Participants represented a variety of progressive organizations such as labor unions, antipollution movements, community groups, Christians, and student societies.17 On the Japanese side, ILP activists were joined by stalwarts of the Beheiren movement like Oda Makoto, who helped articulate the conceptual parameters of the event. The conference was divided into three discrete phases. On the first two days, the foreign participants were taken on a “pollution bus tour” in and around Tokyo, similar to the one Tsuru Shigeto had organized for the Tokyo Symposium in 1971. At Sanrizuka, in nearby Chiba Prefecture, they met with Tomura Issaku and comrades involved in a movement to stop construction of the New Tokyo International Airport (Narita Airport). While in Chiba the group observed the Kawatetsu Steel mill with its five (and soon to be six) blast furnaces, as well as the massive Keiyō Industrial Region on the shores of Tokyo Bay. At the Asahi Glass factory in Chiba a participant from Thailand could not hold back his tears on coming face-to-face with the company responsible for shocking pollution in Bangkok.18 Visits were not limited to environmental hot spots either: Paul Chamniern, an activist from the slums (p.118) of Bangkok, traveled with others to meet Japanese volunteer groups working in Tokyo’s working-class San’ya slum.19 One Malaysian delegate admitted that before the conference he viewed Japan’s antipollution struggle as little more than a fashionable activity of well-to-do people who simply shouted slogans. But, coming to Japan, meeting Minamata victims, and hearing firsthand reports made him realize that it was actually the poorest and most underprivileged people in Japan who were carrying the weight of the movement on their shoulders.20

After the bus tour, participants traveled to the six-hundred-year old Yugyōji Buddhist temple in Fujisawa City an hour south of Tokyo, where they engaged in a two-day “teach-in.” Discussions ranged from the structure of American domination in Asia to the exploitation of workers in Singapore to the Thai labor movement and the legacy of British colonialism in Malaysia.21 As the progressive magazine AMPO later recounted, “After the day’s discussions were carried on informally into the night, all slept in the large common room. One participant commented, ‘this is like a parliament called by anarchists.’ The evenings were sometimes turned over to songs and local dances, a welcome relief from the seriousness of discussions of the Asian scene. In the whole process there developed an unmistakable feeling of participating in something unprecedented.”22 Oda Makoto was swept up in the emotion of the moment, recalling, “When we went out on the [bus tour] we all slept side by side at small inns. I became convinced that sleeping on futons laid side by side and without regard to nationality was the best and the most Asian way of doing things.”23

For the main conference, participants moved to Hachiōji City in Tokyo, along the way observing a US munitions supply facility in Sagamihara and the Mitsubishi Caterpillar factory. Like the teach-in, the wide-ranging discussions at the conference all in one way or another touched on violations of human rights throughout Asia. Japanese participants, for instance, addressed the “mechanism of Japan’s economic invasion” and the responsibility of ordinary Japanese for corporate pollution export, while Hamamoto Tsuginori and Ishimure Michiko, advocates for Minamata disease victims, repeated their cautionary tale about corporate irresponsibility within Japan.24 Breakout sessions dealing with regional labor conditions, political prisoners, and women’s liberation reinforced the themes of injustice, inequity, and rights. On the final day, which was open to the public, participants ratified the Joint Declaration of the Asian People authored by Oda Makoto, and they made a range of commitments and resolutions to oppose political imprisonments (p.119) and discrimination against women in Asia, confront Japanese corporate polluters, and meet in conference as often as necessary or possible.25 The declaration reiterated participants’ main objective of collectively overcoming injustices and violations of human rights throughout Asia—often perpetrated by the United States and Japan.

As the proceedings of the conference declared, “We want to tease out in concrete detail the nature of [Japan’s] economic invasion and its pollution export. We want to fundamentally rethink things, and through solidarity with the peoples of Asia, whose daily lives have been stolen, build a network of struggle to steal back these daily lives.”26 More specifically, delegates hoped the gathering would expose the nefarious activities of Japanese companies and the various facilitating policies of corrupt governments in Asia and, through exchange of information, become the first step in a multipronged attack on this structure of domination. For his part, Oda Makoto saw the conference as a historic display of unity among Asians and an opportunity for them to once again announce to the world “Asia is One.”27

Importantly, for the Japanese participants—especially environmental groups like the ILP—the creation of such “oneness” would first require a frank engagement with their complicity in Japanese corporate behavior in Asia, as consumers and Japanese citizens. Oda made this point loud and clear, explaining how in the course of the anti–Vietnam War movement he had realized that Japan was no longer or simply a victim nation. For Oda, earlier Japanese antiwar and peace movements had been based almost entirely on the perspective of victims—in other words, the mentality of having suffered terribly in the war and not wanting to experience such suffering again. But, while ordinary Japanese were indeed victims of their state in the previous war, they were also perpetrators, said Oda. For example, what the Japanese did to the Chinese or what Japan did to Korea was an issue for every Japanese person. “In other words, the logic that because we are victims we cannot be perpetrators does not hold. We are perpetrators because we are victims.”28 In the context of the pollution export problem, this meant that ordinary Japanese needed to scrutinize the source of their affluent daily lives—how these lives might be connected to Asian suffering and the kind of action needed to “stop walking all over Asian people,” as Oda put it.29

Again and again foreign delegates called on Japanese activists to recast domestic struggles in the wider Asian struggle or risk replaying the tragic history of Japanese aggression in Asia. From the perspective of economic imperialism, it was clear to the foreign delegates that victories in antipollution (p.120) struggles within Japan actually intensified the export of pollution. Just as Japanese unionists’ struggle for higher wages encouraged Japanese corporations to look abroad in search of cheaper labor markets, pressure from domestic antipollution movements forced industry to find more hospitable locations abroad. These were “urgent problems for the Japanese movement,” which would be solved only through an “Asia-wide perspective.”30 A delegate from Thailand articulated this desire for Japanese accountability in the clearest of terms: “What we want is responsibility not charity. Those of us who came from Asian countries [to participate] and all the people in Asia right now do not want to receive charity from Japan. What we want is responsibility. We are aware of our own responsibility and wish to cooperate and to build an organization within which we can struggle together. So please don’t treat us like little children.”31

Indeed, at a deeper level, the event proved more transformative than a mere exposé on Japanese economic transgressions in Asia; it was an opportunity for participants—especially Japanese environmental groups like the ILP—to know and understand other Asians, not on the basis of an amorphous civilizational “Asianness” but within a progressive imaginary knit together by commitment to a new struggle for the defense of human rights and living environments; a critical and contentious regionalism constructed from below and based on mutual responsibility. For their part, ILP activists left the conference both inspired and challenged. On the one hand they were able to repeat—for an all-Asian audience—the cautionary tale of Japanese environmental pollution. Ui Jun hoped they would recognize and work to avoid Japan’s mistaken and “uncritical importation of Western culture since the Meiji era.” He did not want to see Asian countries “suffer in the same way” as Japanese pollution victims had.32

On the other hand, however, Japanese delegates—many of whom would become deeply involved in the pollution export problem—began to rethink environmental injustice from their position as citizens of an “aggressor” nation. Hirayama Takasada, a member of the ILP movement and staunch opponent of pollution export, is a case in point. For Hirayama, Japanese pollution in Asia simply had to be connected to a longer history of aggression and domination in the region. As he explained,

Japanese lead a daily life stained with the blood and sweat of Asian people. Today Asia is integrated into Japan’s industrial structure like a rubbish heap of contradictions. We (latent) victims of Japanese pollution (p.121) must recognize our position as accomplices in and beneficiaries of Japanese imperialism and we must engage in the struggle to slice into the inside of Japanese imperialism—removing pollution from within Japan and stopping the export of pollution to … Asia. Failure to do so will inhibit the formation of strong ties with the people of Asia and all those countries dominated by Japanese imperialism.33

Hirayama emphasized that the motivation for this struggle emerged from the Japanese people’s “regret for 100 years of incessant invasion of Asia from the Meiji era.” Their challenge in the present was to connect this history of invasion to the “voices of Minamata disease suffers” and, ultimately, to the realities of Japanese corporate misbehavior in Asia.34 While any transnational movement against pollution export would certainly require “shared emotion” as Asians or empathy as “victims” of environmental injustice, Hirayama stressed the necessity of connecting that emotion and empathy to a recognition of the “aggression” by Japan against Asia in the past and present. Needless to say, this reconsideration of victimhood and recognition of complicity marked an important intellectual development in thinking about environmental injustice largely absent in the 1960s. It would be reinforced by various concrete mobilizations against pollution export, four decisive instances of which I turn to now.

Polluted Japan in Bangkok: Beyond the Logic of “Old Maid”

In an important 1977 essay, Inoue Sumio—a former Beheiren activist now leading the struggle against pollution export—criticized what he called the “Old Maid logic” in Japanese antipollution protest. He was referring here to the card game Old Maid, in which the aim is to not be the one left holding the unpaired queen of spades (the joker card in the Japanese version, Babanuki) by skillfully shifting it to other players. In terms of pollution protest, the metaphor symbolized the ways local communities had expelled pollutive industry from their localities without the slightest concern for its next destination—what might now be described as NIMBY (not-in-my-back-yard) logic.35 As I have shown elsewhere, this Old Maid logic held sway among many local Japanese antipollution movements of the 1960s and early 1970s, with one prominent advocate even arguing that the wider public interest was best served when antipollution groups adhered to a resolute “local egoism.”36

But, as Inoue’s critique of Old Maid logic evidences, by the mid- to late 1970s a growing number of Japanese environmental activists had rejected (p.122) local egoism, primarily on ethical grounds, in response to pollution export. For Inoue and others, the oppressive political conditions under which many Asians lived often precluded Japanese forms of grassroots resistance, which benefited from a demo cratic constitution and the rule of law. The self-gratifying logic of some Japanese activists that the aggregate of their local egoisms would produce a greater overall good collapsed completely when pollution crossed national borders. To be sure, protesting communities in Japan could, with a degree of confidence, count on other communities nationwide to do the same, effectively stranding polluting industries and serving a greater overall national good. But what about in countries where dictatorial regimes suppressed all expressions of local resistance? When polluting industries set up operations there, the chain of resistance linking local egoisms broke down and the troubling question of responsibility resurfaced: if the next community could not continue the struggle, then who would help them offload the pollution card? Moreover, that such questions involved Japan and other Asian countries added a whole other dimension to the issue of responsibility, connecting pollution export to the sins of an imperial past and a fragile mentality of victimhood.

A sensitivity to this Old Maid logic was evident among some Japanese antipollution groups almost immediately after UNCHE. Stimulated by their interactions with other Asian activists at the conference, members of the ILP executive committee started an English-language publication, KOGAI: The Newsletter from Polluted Japan, with a 140,000-yen donation received from the Karolinska Institute. This newsletter was distributed free of charge (mainly throughout East Asia) on a seasonal basis, beginning in summer 1973. Ui Jun’s opening statement in the first edition succinctly articulated the new task antipollution activists had set themselves: “Our purpose is to place emphasis on the Asian environmental situation and through this emphasis and cooperation come to the aid of various peoples’ movements working on the same problems throughout Asia. … We feel that in this way we can in some small respect compensate for the great damage that Japanese imperialism has done in the past and will continue to do in the future.” Ui wanted KOGAI to be a voice for antipollution movements around Asia and a source of inspiration for groups as they saw their local struggles communicated to activists across the region. KOGAI, Ui and others hoped, would evolve into a vehicle for genuine transnational solidarity based on mutual recognition and common struggle—an Asia in which the people were united and not just the elites.

(p.123) The ILP executive committee also established an Asia group dedicated to investigating Japanese economic activity in the region, and the movement’s Japanese-language publication, Jishu Kōza, began a new column titled Ajia no Mado (Window on Asia), which ran dedicated articles on Asian issues. These initiatives served as important vehicles for activists involved in the ILP movement to begin a discussion about Japanese environmental injustices in a regional context. In late 1972, for example, ILP activist Matsuoka Nobuo reported on his travels throughout Malaysia and Thailand where he reconnected with contacts forged at UNCHE. Matsuoka reported how young Malaysian intellectuals were extremely skeptical, if not cynical, about so-called Japanese economic and technical assistance, which was often no more than a euphemism for Japan procuring cheap labor and materials. As Matsuoka put it, “If we fail to carefully reconsider what assistance really is, Japanese run the risk of losing the good faith of our Asian friends to a point where it is irrecoverable.” While in Malaysia, Matsuoka spoke about Japan’s environmental problems to his hosts, and he investigated the health risks of Japanese pesticides used in Malaysian farming. He also promised to send copies of KOGAI to Malaysian activists.37 In Thailand, Matsuoka visited Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, where he learned of student initiatives to clean up the city’s rivers.38 As in Malaysia, he gave an hour-long presentation with slides on Japanese pollution (Minamata, Itai Itai) to faculty members and students (many belonging to nature conservation clubs), and he distributed copies of Polluted Japan.39 After the presentation at Chulalongkorn, the moderator commented that this was the first time many had heard about Japanese pollution, and hence it would serve as a warning and something none of them would forget. Matsuoka recalled how, on hearing this, he was “overtaken” with the sense that from now on all Japanese activists “must be prepared to shoulder another heavy responsibility.”40 “Can we silently watch as Japanese pollution crosses the sea and spreads throughout Asia?” he asked. “The time has come for us to act on the realization that we have another heavy responsibility. Each and every one of us should think about what we can do.”41

Matsuoka’s interaction with Thai environmental groups was propitious, because only months later, suspicions about Japanese pollution export to Thailand became realities. Under the ominous headline “No Repeat of the Minamata Tragedy,” on August 5, 1973, the Thai daily, Siam Rath, began a series of articles on contamination of Bangkok’s Chao Phrya River by the Thai Asahi Caustic Soda Company (TACS), a Thai-Japan joint venture (p.124) established in 1966, with the Asahi Glass Company of Japan (part of the Mitsubishi Group) providing 49 percent of the capital and all of the technical expertise.42 According to the Siam Rith, testing conducted by Thai authorities in September 1973 revealed that river water contaminated by caustic soda dumped from the TACS factory had completely destroyed farming crops. More worryingly, for a six-month period beginning in May 1973, effluent dumped from the factory containing chlorine, hydrochloric acid, and traces of mercury resulted in a massive die-off of fish and shrimp, which local residents had unwittingly consumed.43 As early as May 1973, people along the river had contracted various skin afflictions and bouts of diarrhea of unknown cause. Fearful of the river water, many resorted to digging makeshift wells.44 For its part, TACS denied dumping any contaminated waste and refused all responsibility for the fish kill and human health effects, saying that its effluent was “smelly” but not toxic.45 The company’s Japanese general manager admitted to the use of inorganic mercury in production processes but said the utmost efforts were made to remove any traces from effluent and, in any case, this was inorganic mercury and not organic mercury, the culprit in Minamata.46 Asahi Glass’s environmental track record in Japan, however, suggested other wise. In summer 1973, as the company faced a brewing controversy in Bangkok, irate fishermen from Chiba blockaded Asahi Glass and other factories responsible for polluting the waters of Tokyo Bay. Tests conducted in waters near the Asahi Glass plant revealed high levels of both inorganic and organic mercury.47

In Thailand, environmental activists mobilized almost immediately to address the Chao Phraya contamination. From August 26 to 31, 1973, nature conservation clubs at Thammasat, Kasetsart, Chulalongkorn, and Mahidol Universities organized an urgent nature conservation exhibition on the campus of Thammasat University, which devoted considerable attention to the Japanese pollution experience and its implications for Thailand.48 Thanks to their earlier interactions with Japanese activists at UNCHE and, later, with Matsuoka Nobuo, the students were armed with a battery of powerful resources such as Polluted Japan and other disturbing slideshows and documentaries on the Japanese tragedy.49 Concerned officials from both the Thai Ministry of Industry and of Public Sanitation attended the screening of Tsuchimoto Noriaki’s Minamata: The Victims and Their World, which no doubt played into their decision to begin investigations into TACS the following month.50

(p.125) Building on Matsuoka Nobuo’s interactions with Thai students before the crisis, Hirayama Takasada—also of the ILP Asia group—visited the Kasetsart University nature conservation club on August 6, 1973, to give another slide presentation on Japanese pollution.51 His timing could not have been better. Activists at the university greeted Hirayama with the Siam Rath newspaper article of the previous day on the TACS pollution controversy.52 His reaction was one of shock and indignation.

What this!? The evil hand of mercury contamination has reached Thailand! My naïve assumption that full-scale pollution export was yet to occur had been betrayed with consummate easy by these cold, hard facts. Utterly surprised, for a time I was speechless. I was thrown into utter despair by a piercing reality: “pollution export had begun! Thai Asahi Caustic Soda was just the tip of the iceberg.” Yet I was quickly filled with rage. I could not allow this. I simply could not allow it. Once again I engraved in my mind the purpose of this visit: to communicate the situation of Japanese pollution and to find a way to mobilize an antipollution movement based on cooperation between Japanese and Southeast Asian people.53

Back in Japan, activists moved quickly against Asahi Glass. Determined not to “silently watch the foreign economic invasion and pollution export of corporations and the Japanese government,” on September 14, 1973, around 150 protesters from groups including the ILP, Beheiren, and the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Antiwar Shareholders Committee demonstrated outside the Tokyo headquarters of Asahi Glass with placards—in Japanese and Thai—reading “Asahi Glass, Stop Exporting Pollution!” and “the Japanese people will not allow contamination of the Chao Phraya River by Asahi Glass.”54 This demonstration was widely reported in major Thai media outlets such as Siam Rath, which ran interviews with protesters and printed large photos of the event. Thereafter, the Japanese groups received a deluge of letters from Bangkok citizens expressing gratitude and asking for more information on pollution.55

One month later, on October 14, 1973, Inoue Sumio and fellow activists established the Nichi-Tai Seinen Yūkō Undō (Japan-Thai Youth Friendship Movement), which served as the central node in the transnational mobilization against Asahi Glass.56 Thereafter, grassroots exchange between (p.126) activists in both countries intensified, at first primarily through the mailing of materials such as the KOGAI magazine and, later, via mutual visits and coordinated protest events. Most impressive of these transnational phenomena was the simultaneous protest of September 1974 held in Tokyo and Bangkok. This action was the brainchild of Hirayama Takasada and Sutatip Inthon, a young sociologist and member of the nature conservation club at Thammasat University. During his August 1974 visit to the university, Hirayama told Inthon about their demonstration against Asahi Glass headquarters planned for September of that year, and, in response, she determined to hold a major environmental exhibition at the same time, to be called “The Pollution Export of Polluted Japan.”57 The combined actions, the two activists hoped, would become a powerful “two-front attack” (hasamiuchi) on the company and pollution export more generally.

On September 14, 1974, a modest group of around eighty protesters marched on the headquarters of Asahi Glass in central Tokyo, again with Thai- and Japanese-language banners reading “Asahi Glass, Get Out of Thailand!” More than the protest of a year earlier, the Japanese were acutely aware of the historical significance of the event as a moment of border-crossing solidarity. In spite of their geographical separation, in this moment, at least, they shared a common space with Thai compatriots fighting for the same cause. Telegrams from Thailand heightened this sense of joint struggle. A telegram from the organizers of the Thai event told the Japanese that “we struggle together with you in order to survive.”58 The Federation of Independent Students of Thailand (FIST), an organization at the forefront of the country’s historic October Revolution of 1973, concluded that “people around the world are slowly realizing that the greatest obstacle to the real development of mankind is imperialism” and hence “our historic mission is to cooperate in the destruction of the destructive system called imperialism.”59 Inoue, Hirayama, and the other organizers were somewhat disappointed at the turnout in Tokyo, coming just months after the buoyant emotion of the Conference of Asians.60 But, in the broader context of Japanese environmental activism, the movement was of historic import. This was one of the first times Japanese and other Asians had protested together—albeit in different countries—against an instance of Japanese corporate pollution outside Japan.

Developments at the Thailand node of the demonstration were of a different scale altogether. Students and faculty involved in nature conservation clubs at Thammasat, Chulalongkorn, and Ramkhamhaeng Universities (p.127) held their exhibition on “Pollution Export from Polluted Japan” at the Thammasat University auditorium for three days, September 14–16, 1974. The aims of the event were threefold: first, to raise consciousness of the dangers of environmental pollution by reference to the Japanese experience; second, to pressure the Thai government to think about effective methods for regulating waste material from factories; and, third, to caution companies planning to construct new facilities.61 Okuda Takaharu of the ILP Asia group, who was in Thailand for the exhibition, observed how it represented the first serious attempt to think about pollution problems in Thai history.62 Visitors to the exhibition were greeted by a large banner at the entrance reading “POLLUTED JAPAN,” under which was placed a coffin and a photo graph of a child victim of fetal Minamata disease.63 The lobby of the auditorium displayed photographs—supplied by the ILP—of Yokkaichi City, Minamata Bay, PCB contamination victims, nuclear power plants, and Okinawa US military bases, all with accompanying explanations in Thai. A series of panels dealt with the Japanese economic penetration into Asia and the collusion between Japanese and Thai political leaders. There was also a satirical cartoon titled “The Japanese Monster Dying from Pollution” and a panel asking visitors to sign a petition opposing Japanese-led construction of a petrochemical plant in Si Racha on the Gulf of Thailand.64 Copies of the declaration made at the Tokyo protest against Asahi Glass were also distributed to visitors.65

Okuda described how Japan was severely criticized throughout the exhibition, encapsulated by the comment of one individual who bluntly concluded, “Japanese imperialism is nastier than American imperialism.”66 But there were also positive moments for Japan during the event, such as the outburst of applause when the organizers announced that activists in the Japan-Thai Youth Friendship Movement were holding a simultaneous demonstration in Tokyo.67 Okuda observed that “through this simultaneous demonstration the citizens of Thailand and Japan are finally being connected by a still-delicate thread. In order to strengthen this connection it is nothing more than a matter of conscientiously monitoring pollution export. Such a movement is already underway in Thailand.”68 Speaking to Okuda after the event, Sutatip Inthon could only agree that the exhibition was a great success but, in a tone of realism, added that “this movement is still a very small minority.”69

Small, no doubt, but the simultaneous transnational protest of September 1974 had lasting effects. In the three days of the event, an unprecedented (p.128) fifteen thousand Thai citizens came face-to-face—through presentations, debates, slides, films, and photographs—with the realities of Japanese pollution and its export to their country.70 Thereafter the Mitsui and Mitsubishi Corporations announced that plans to construct the petrochemical plant at the Si Racha district were to be shelved for at least three years. In their press release, the two companies admitted that one reason was Thai students and intellectuals increased attention to the pollution risks of petrochemical complexes.71 Activists on both sides also walked away transformed. Sutatip Inthon observed that the exhibition was about much more than the TACS problem because it introduced the Thai people to broader questions of economic development, industrial pollution, and human health. “Momentous” also for Inthon was the transnational coordination with the Tokyo protesters.72

Okuda Takaharu was correspondingly impressed by the energy and optimism of the Thai students in the wake of the revolution of October 1973. He was pleased and proud to see members of the nature conservation club at Thammasat University diligently translating Polluted Japan into Thai.73 As he explained, the efforts of these students to tell the Thai people about an “insignificant” antipollution movement started in Japan by “ordinary citizens” four years ago was of “great encouragement” for those Japanese “seeking genuine connections with the people of Asia and an end to pollution export.”74 Okuda believed that the way forward for the diversified antipollution movement in Japan was, on the one hand, to communicate the valuable experience of the domestic movement—unique in world history—to the peoples of Asia and, on the other hand, to obtain as much information as possible from the people of Asia. “Only then will ‘solidarity’ cease to be an obsolete concept.” “There are many things we need to communicate. And there are so many things we need to learn. It is clear that the process of building connections between Thai and Japanese citizens has just begun. But to the extent that we pursue the common objective of ‘eliminating pollution and that which produces it,’ there is a potential for us to build connections with the people of Asia. … The task from here on is to further strengthen diverse and substantive connections. This is necessary for our mutual survival.”75

Pollution Export to South Korea: Don’t Let the Pollution Escape

As Hirayama, Inoue, and other activists scrambled to gather information and organize a response to the TACS incident in Thailand, their unnerving (p.129) sense of Japanese pollution export already “well underway” was confirmed in early 1974 when another instance in nearby South Korea came to light.76 Even more than pollution export to Thailand, its occurrence in South Korea disrupted the close association Japanese groups had drawn between environmental injustice and their own victimhood. As they keenly recognized, lurking beneath the South Korean pollution export problem was a troubling legacy of colonization and brutal aggression on the Korean peninsula. In a sense, pollution export to South Korea coalesced with these unresolved historical issues to produce a doubled or compounded sense of aggression in the consciousness of activists. Most immediately this recognition inspired action in the form of resisting any further violation of Korean human rights by Japanese industry and its South Korean patrons. But it also provoked a reconsideration of the ethical foundations of environmental injustice. As the following two movements against the Toyama Chemical and Nippon Chemical companies reveal, Japanese activists’ engagement in pollution export to former colonies like South Korea not only expanded the geographical scope of their struggle against environmental injustice, it also fashioned a new reflexivity, in which victims recognized their simultaneous position as aggressors—just as Oda had done in the context of the Vietnam War and repeated at the Conference of Asians. To be sure, these transnational movements were small scale and involved but a handful of activists. But together with contemporary antiwar, minority, and women’s liberation groups involved in Asia, they were pushing Japanese civic activism in new directions and into relatively uncharted geographical and ideational terrain.

Japanese activists first became aware of pollution export to South Korea via a February 15, 1974, article in the newspaper Tōyō Keizai Nippō, published by the resident Korean community in Japan. According to the article, headlined “‘Pollutive Plant’ Export, South Korea?!,” the Japanese company Toyama Chemical Industries planned to sell its Toyama mercurochrome plant to a Korean entrepreneur after having being forced to cease its Japanese operations in 1973 because of mercury contamination. The new owner, Mr. Koe, a Japanese resident Korean and president of the Sanwa Chemical Corporation, intended to dismantle, transport, and then reconstruct the plant in Incheon City, eventually exporting the mercurochrome back to Japan for use by Toyama Chemical. Mercurochrome, of course, is a powerful topical antiseptic containing up to 25 percent mercury content. Despite reassurances from the company, there had long been concerns that effluent from the production process might contain traces of mercury, which it (p.130) indeed did.77 The move to South Korea appeared to be a convenient way to continue production of mercurochrome while avoiding annoying regulations and noisy protest in Japan.

Incheon residents—mostly members of the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA)—learned of the planned facility from the Tōyō Keizai Nippō article, which served as an important vehicle for information exchange between Korean activists in Japan and their South Korean counterparts. The Incheon YWCA quickly convened an emergency meeting at which members passed a resolution of opposition, devised a plan of action, and issued a warning to Sanwa and Toyama Chemical. The women also petitioned the Incheon municipal mayor to stop construction of the mercurochrome plant and to immediately revoke Sanwa Chemical’s company registration.78 Given the repressive political atmosphere under the Park Chung-hee dictatorship, their decision to directly lobby officialdom was a bold one indeed.

Unaware of the Incheon YWCA movement, in Japan the ILP Asia group, led by Hirayama Takasada and his colleague Inoue Sumio (both students at Tokyo University), swung into action. In Tokyo they conducted searches on Toyama Chemical at the Japan Patent Information Organization, the Patent Agency, the National Diet Library, and the Government Printing Center. Their investigations into mercurochrome production revealed that inorganic mercury was indeed a by-product of the manufacturing process. Hirayama and Inoue also traveled to Toyama Prefecture, where they met with two grassroots groups: the Kōgai o Kokuhatsu suru Shimin Rengō (Citizens’ Alliance to Expose Pollution) and the Toyama Kyūenkai (Toyama Relief Association), both of which had been established to support industrial pollution victims in that area.79 Representatives of these groups explained the background of Toyama Chemical’s decision to close its mercurochrome facility in Toyama. In September 1973 the company had been forced to halt production after authorities measured elevated levels of mercury in Toyama Bay—in some places equivalent to levels in Minamata Bay. The company voluntarily installed an extra mercury extraction device, but in December 1973 the Toyama prefectural government advised that mercury exceeding safe limits had again been detected in industrial sludge near the factory’s drainpipes. MITI officials also announced that some sites in the bay were still dangerously polluted with mercury.80 It was at this point that Toyama Chemical’s executives hatched their scheme to sell the plant to Mr. Koe and import mercurochrome from Incheon.81

(p.131) On returning to Tokyo, Hirayama and Inoue wrote up the results of their investigations in a report, Toyama Kagaku no Suigin Tarenagashi Sangyō to Kankoku e no Kōgai Yushutsu ni tsuite (Toyama chemical’s mercury-dumping operations and pollution export to South Korea) and on April 5, 1974, they established the Toyama Kagaku no Kōgai Yushutsu o Yamesaseru Jikkō Iinkai (Executive Committee to Stop Toyama Chemical’s Pollution Export, hereafter Stop Toyama).82 Although it would undergo numerous name changes, this movement and its monthly publication, Kōgai o Nogasuna! (Don’t let pollution escape!), continued essentially uninterrupted for the following twenty years, in many ways becoming the backbone of transnational environmental activism in the country during this period. The publication’s title is symbolic of the transformation under way in some Japanese activists’ understanding of environmental injustice. Whereas earlier the objective had been to simply eradicate industrial pollution from local living spaces in Japan, now the task also entailed apprehending pollution before it “escaped” overseas—that is, dealing with environmental injustice at the source rather than shifting it elsewhere, Old Maid style.

Around two hundred participants took part in the movement’s first demonstration outside Toyama Chemical’s headquarters in Tokyo’s Nihonbashi area on April 27, 1974. Protesters carried banners in Korean and Japanese reading “Mercury Polluter Toyama Chemical, Stop Exporting Pollution!” Accompanying the Stop Toyama group were Kawamoto Teruo, an advocate for Minamata disease sufferers; Park Cheonsoku and Park Soncheon of the Zai-Nihon Daikanmin Kokumindan (the Korean Residents Union in Japan, or Mindan); and Shimizu Tomohisa, leader of the colorfully named Haena Kigyō o Kokuhatsu suru Kai (Association to Expose Hyena Corporations), which was a veteran of the anti–Vietnam War struggle.83 The demonstration had special significance for the resident Korean participants. As their appeal noted, the rally was “a moment of historic import as … Koreans seeking the democratization of South Korea and opposing Japanese economic invasion and the imposition of pollution united—on a common battlefield—with Japanese people opposed to pollution export.” It represented a “great opportunity for joint struggle in the future.”84 To coincide with the Tokyo protest, activists in Toyama Prefecture conducted simultaneous demonstrations outside of Toyama and Takaoka train stations and the Toyama Chemical Factory, where they handed out leaflets to passers-by and company workers.85 The following extract, drawn from one of (p.132) these leaflets, is typical of the sense of complicity and responsibility developing within some environmental groups in Japan at this time: “We cannot ignore this mechanism in which our ‘affluence’ is built on the sacrifice of the South Korean people. … Come on, let’s stop from within Japan the economic invasion and export of pollution into Asia by Japan, exemplified by Toyama Chemical’s corporate activity.”86

It was at this April demonstration that the Japanese activists first learned of the Incheon YWCA movement. A member of the Japan YWCA participating in the protest read out an article translated from a South Korean Christian newspaper detailing the activities of the Incheon YWCA movement, which was met with warm applause.87 As the KOGAI newsletter later recounted, “Prob ably the sisters in Korea had more difficulties and were placed under worse conditions than us to express their protest against the ‘import of pollution’ from Japan. But they were brave, and we must learn from their anti-pollution movement. On our part though, we have changed gradually through our movement. We have really come to think seriously that we must change the present Korea-Japan relationship from its foundation. The present relationship is only serving the interests of the LDP … and Park regimes.”88 Inoue Sumio observed how, different from the joint struggle with students in Thailand, the Park dictatorship made it “next to impossible” for South Korean activists to come out in open protest or to form direct transnational linkages. But, although they were not in direct contact, for all intents and purposes, the Toyama Chemical movement was indeed a “joint struggle” with the women of the Incheon YWCA. As he concluded, “even if we cannot form strong direct links with the people of South Korea, … if we can accomplish a ‘de facto joint struggle’ then that is just fine.”89

On April 30, 1974, just three days after the demonstrations in Tokyo and Toyama, NHK television news announced that the Toyama Chemical board of directors had unanimously decided to abandon its plan to sell the mercurochrome facility. When Hirayama and Inoue subsequently visited the company headquarters, officials reiterated their decision of the previous year to stop production of mercurochrome altogether, although they carefully explained the decision on the basis of “lower profits,” and not because of the protests in Japan and South Korea, or the damning report of the Toyama Prefectural Pollution Department, which concluded that the company had dumped close to 2,200 pounds (approximately one ton) of mercury into Toyama Bay.90 Given such recalcitrance—even in defeat—activists decided (p.133) to keep their movement afloat as a watchdog on Toyama Chemical and, indeed, on any other company that dared to export pollution. A letter by the group to Toyama Chemical explained that, although the company had “wisely” decided against the plan, opponents “did not consider the matter to have been solved.”91

The reason you wanted to take [the plant] all the way to South Korea was because you feared the antipollution movement in Japan. If there was no pollution you would have had absolutely no reason to be afraid. In other words, weren’t you afraid because you had been dumping pollution? […] So, even if your company says it will ‘cease all production, development, and export of mercurochrome’ we cannot believe you. Together with other antipollution movements, resident South Koreans, and the people of South Korea, we will continue to closely monitor the activities of your company and Sanwa Chemical.92

Ulsan, South Korea: Local Responsibility and Historical Debts

Members of the Stop Toyama movement did not have to wait long for a new challenge. The second South Korean incident surfaced in June 1974, as the Toyama Chemical protest was drawing to a close and activists were preparing for the Conference of Asians. Similar to the Toyama mobilization, local antipollution groups in Tokyo also joined this second mobilization out of a sense of responsibility to communities at the receiving end of Japanese pollution export. They drew explicit connections between South Korea and their own peripheralized status within Japan. Moreover, they began to express a sense of historical responsibility as citizens of a country that had formerly colonized and brutalized the Korean people. Needless to say, rooted cosmopolitan activists like Hirayama and Inoue played no small role in the development of this multidimensional and reflexive consciousness among local groups. As the “connective tissue” between local protests, they helped such groups reposition their struggles on a broader regional canvas and within a longer historical trajectory.

On June 3, 1974, the newspaper Nikkei Sangyō Shinbun reported that the Nippon Chemical Company intended to establish a joint venture with a South Korean company in the Ulsan Industrial Region to manufacture sodium bichromate and mirabilite anhydride. The article noted that the joint-venture company, Ulsan Inorganic Chemicals, already had approval from the Park government and in quite candid language described the (p.134) undertaking as “a new direction in the development of production bases through the international dispersion of pollutive industries.”93 At the time, Nippon Chemical manufactured sodium bichromate in factories at Komatsugawa, in Tokyo’s downtown Edogawa ward, and in Tokuyama City, located in Yamaguchi Prefecture on the Southern tip of Honshū Island. Like Toyama Chemical, Nippon Chemical was a company with a checkered past both as a polluter and an accessory in Japanese war time imperialism. The hexavalent chromium Nippon Chemical used in the production of sodium bichromate is a highly toxic substance that was (and is) listed in the Dokubutsu oyobi Gekibutsu Torishimari Hō (Poisonous and deleterious substances control act) of Japan. Poisoning symptoms include stomach pain, bloody diarrhea, and, in more serious instances, convulsions and coma. Inhalation of particles containing the substance can result in asthma, pharyngitis, conjunctivitis, and, in the long-term, lung cancer.94 During the manufacturing process, toxic hexavalent chromium slag is produced in large quantities and must be properly disposed of to avoid environmental contamination. Nevertheless, in 1970 Nippon Chemical shamelessly sold slag containing hexavalent chromium to Ichikawa City in nearby Chiba Prefecture that was used as landfill on rice paddy fields being converted into residential neighborhoods. The company also sold slag-contaminated land—including the site of its Komatsugawa plant in Edogawa Ward—to the Tokyo municipal government for some US$40 million, the profits of which were used to finance construction of the new factory in South Korea.95 Soon after the Chiba landfill project commenced, local residents noticed a strange yellow substance leaching from the ground, and ensuing tests by a Tokyo University professor revealed dangerously elevated levels of hexavalent chromium, some of which was washing into Tokyo Bay.96

Under pressure from the media and local residents, in February 1972 Nippon Chemical shifted all manufacturing of sodium bichromate to its Tokuyama factory, but in August of that year a ship carrying slag from the factory sank in waters off the coast of Shimonoseki in Yamaguchi Prefecture, exposing Nippon Chemical’s surreptitious dumping of toxic waste at sea. Investigations revealed that the company had ocean-dumped some eleven thousand pounds (approximately five tons) of waste material despite a promise—in the form of a pollution prevention agreement with Tokuyama City—that it would convert all waste material into insoluble trivalent chromium (and despite two levels of bureaucratic oversight).97 Consequently, in September 1972 the Tokuyama Municipal Assembly ordered a temporary (p.135) suspension of production at the Komatsugawa factory.98 In late June 1974, a citizens’ group conducted further tests on pools of water to the south of the Komatsugawa factory in Tokyo that revealed levels of chromium 1,300 times above the regulatory limits. In 1975, water testing conducted near the factory again revealed chromium hot spots with contamination up to 2,200 times above regulatory limits.99 Hirayama and Inoue’s own testing around the Tokyo factory in 1974 also confirmed ongoing chromium contamination problems. As Inoue explained, this sorry history of lies and cover-ups made the logic behind Nippon Chemical’s decision to go to South Korea crystal clear: “If Tokyo isn’t possible, there is always the countryside,” and “if Japan isn’t possible, there is always South Korea.”100

But the Nippon Chemical incident was about more than pollution and its export—it was also about a history “stained with the blood and sweat of Asian people,” as Hirayama graphically put it. The company began operations in 1893 as Tanahashi Pharmaceuticals, and in 1915 started to manufacture sodium bichromate, a key ingredient in explosives.101 During World War II the company used large numbers of forced Korean laborers to mine chromium for use in the production of munitions to fuel Japan’s military adventures in Korea and China.102 Nippon Chemical’s remorseless commitment to profit over ethics continued into the postwar era. Throughout the Vietnam War the company brazenly imported chromite from the Soviet Union, which was in turn used to manufacture explosives subsequently used by the United States in the Vietnam conflict—in a sense allowing Nippon Chemical to profiteer on Cold War rivalries.103 Anti–Vietnam War activists often referred to Mitsubishi Heavy Industries as a “merchant of death” and a “hyena corporation” for its production of armaments, but these labels seem equally applicable to Nippon Chemical. Kōgai o Nogasuna! was even less forgiving, describing the company’s move to South Korea as part of a longer “Asian invasion” built on Nippon Chemical’s remorseless “sucking of the South Korean people’s blood.”104

Members of the Stop Toyama group held their first demonstration against Nippon Chemical at Kamedo Station in downtown Tokyo in late August 1974, and they continued to do so almost monthly until the South Korean plant commenced operations in 1976 and intermittently thereafter. The group also held public slide shows on hexavalent chromium contamination and pollution export, and members distributed leaflets in neighborhoods around the Komatsugawa factory explaining the link between local pollution and Japanese industrial expansion into South Korea. Throughout the (p.136) mobilization, Kōgai o Nogasuna! continued to report in great detail on developments in South Korea, and editions carried clippings from South Korean newspapers accompanied by Japanese translations, commentaries, and clever political cartoons. In August 1975, at the height of a hot and humid summer, the group engaged in a month of daily demonstrations to display its resolute opposition to pollution export.105 During these demonstrations protesters often formed a human chain around the Komatsugawa factory to symbolize the movement’s objective of surrounding and obstructing Nippon Chemical’s operations in Japan and abroad. For Hirayama and his colleagues, the movement was always about far more than pollution export; it was about preventing the resurgence of an expansionist Japan only very recently tamed by war defeat. As activists gathered to protest Nippon Chemical in 1975—the thirtieth anniversary of the war defeat—some even had the sense that their country was “leaning in the direction of militarism,” moving toward an “Asian invasion” externally and “suppression of the [Japanese] people” internally.106 An overreaction perhaps, but activists’ linking together of Japan and Korea, and the militarist past and the pollutive present, clearly transcended earlier imaginations of environmental injustice based on local victimhood alone.

The involvement of local Tokyo groups such as the Bokutō kara Kōgai o nakusu Kumin no Kai (Residents’ Association to Remove Pollution from Bokutō) evidenced Hirayama and others’ success in nurturing a more nuanced understanding of environmental injustice among some local grassroots groups in Japan.107 Established to deal specifically with pollution from Nippon Chemical’s operations in their downtown Tokyo neighborhoods, the Bokutō Association attracted a great deal of media attention in mid-1975 after obtaining documents from the Tōkyōto Kōgai Kyoku (Tokyo Municipal Pollution Bureau) that identified the company’s illegal hexavalent chromate slag dumping site.108 Matsuoka Yūji, one of the group’s leaders, explained how he became involved when his two young children suddenly developed asthma after relocating to Kōtō Ward near the Nippon Chemical factory. It was not until attending a slideshow organized by local activists, however, that he first heard about the factory and began to suspect a connection to his children’s ailments. At the gathering Matsuoka met with disgruntled company employees, who explained how they had developed holes in the cartilage of their nasal cavities after working in the factory and inhaling its noxious fumes.109 (p.137)

Pollution Export and Victimhood

A Nippon Chemical employee with a nasal cavity hole from hexavalent chromium poisoning, 1975

(The Mainichi Newspapers)

But it was not only self-interest, local egoism, or even paternal instinct that fueled Matsuoka and others’ activism; they were also clearly motivated by a sense of injustice. Along with the pollution itself, the group pointed to the “structure of discrimination” in which those in uptown Tokyo discarded all of their unwanted things on downtown Tokyo, like trash processing facilities and chemical factories. It was this sense of injustice that made the Bokutō Association’s members all the more receptive to Hirayama and others’ calls to oppose Nippon Chemical’s move into South Korea. After all, wasn’t Japan treating Asia in much the same way as uptown Tokyoites were treating people downtown? And, if this was the case, didn’t members of the Bokutō Association have an ethical responsibility to stop Nippon Chemical from inflicting pain on the South Korean people—a pain they knew only too well?110 At a June 1975 demonstration against Nippon Chemical, members of the association articulated this position unequivocally, declaring that “there could be nothing more disrespectful to South Korea and its people than to impose this [pollution] on them simply because it is not possible in Japan. Nippon Chemical must not be allowed to replicate the (p.138) same ‘imperialist mentality’ from the war when it forcibly brought Koreans to Japan and imposed abusive labor on them. We will fight until pollution export is stopped and until the realization of normal ties of friendship and goodwill between South Korea and Japan which endure for 100 years, 200 years, or forever.”111

The Bokutō Association’s pledge reverberated across the Sea of Japan. During August 1975 the South Korean newspaper Dong-A Ilbo ran a series of articles on the opposition to pollution export in Japan.112 An August 18, 1975, editorial in the paper noted how many Japanese “social organizations” and “conscientious citizens” had come out to protest against companies like Toyama and Nippon Chemical because they felt it would be a “national shame to export to neighboring countries pollutive industries which ran the risk of mercury poisoning.” “Their claim is that ‘we will absolutely not allow [Nippon Chemical] to export pollution to South Korea without having solved the chromium contamination at their own factory.’” The editorial carefully reminded readers that this opposition to pollution export began first among citizens in Japan, “a fact which should leave us [South Koreans] with ‘red faces.’”113 For Matsuoka and the Bokutō Association, however, if pollution kept escaping to Asia, the only red faces would be theirs, and, worse still, red too would be their hands, stained with the blood of other Asians. As the KOGAI newsletter of spring 1975 announced to its predominantly Asian readership,

We Japanese have been too indifferent to the existing exploitation system within which we and the Asian people around us are entrapped. Surely we are now living in an expanding “empire.” We have not been aware of the economic relations between Asia and Japan, in which the present “prosperity” of Japan stands on the sacrifice of Asian people. The more Japanese (or more exactly, the more a small number of Japanese) become wealthy, the poorer the other Asian people become. And what is more important, we haven’t realized that Asians are developing their own movements and their own socio-economic development and independence. Now we must have the perspective not of what we can do for them, but what we must not do to them.114

Nowhere is this emergent sense of responsibility toward fellow Asians more evident than Chiba residents’ mobilization against the industrial giant Kawatetsu. Their movement reveals how by the late 1970s many domestic (p.139) environmental protesters were both aware of and prepared to act against instances of pollution far beyond their own backyards.

Mindanao: Translocal Empathy

Like the movements against TACS, Toyama Chemical, and Nippon Chemical, the mobilization opposing Kawatetsu’s pollution export to the Philippines offers an invaluable insight into the process by which some local protest movements in 1970s Japan escalated into transnational actions on the basis of activists’ expanding sense of injustice and responsibility. The Kawatetsu issue traced its origins to 1951, when the company constructed Japan’s largest integrated steelworks in Chiba City with the strong backing of the government and industrial financiers. The first blast furnace became operational in 1953, and by 1965 the facility had five furnaces, making it the largest in Japan and the sixth largest worldwide.115 In its early days, Kawatetsu was seen as a beacon of modernity and postwar reconstruction. A local school even composed a song celebrating the steelworks’ billowing smokestacks, proclaiming “smoke rises up to dye the vast heavens, silver in daytime and gold at night, the sound of steel-making is the note of civilization.”116 The “smoke,” of course, had horrific effects on human health, because it contained a poisonous cocktail of iron oxide, cadmium, nitrogen and sulfur dioxides, sulfurous acid gas, and arsenous acid.117 Tests by the Chiba City authorities in 1970 recorded concentrations of sulfur dioxide in five sites around the city far exceeding national regulatory standards, while data on sulfurous acid gas density for the period between 1963 and 1973 revealed increasing concentration levels closer to the Kawatetsu facility. A 1972 report by the EAJ on sulfur dioxide gas pollution listed four sites in the vicinity of Kawatetsu among the worst ten nationwide.118 As the KOGAI newsletter explained to its readers, residents near the facility “cannot hang out their washing to dry and are not able to open windows in spite of the heat of summer days because of the sooty and smoky air created by the steelworks. They suffer not only from such difficulties as these in their daily lives but also from diseases such as acute inflammation of the eyes, bronchitis, Kawasaki asthma, pulmonary emphysema, and lung cancer because of the air pollution caused by KSC [Kawatetsu].”119 In 1972 Yoshida Akira of the Chiba University Medical School issued a damning report on the health condition of people living around the facility, revealing instances of respiratory disease exceeding those in Kawasaki and Fuji Cities, both notorious as “pollution department stores.”120 In response, Chiba City hastily established a (p.140) pollution-disease certification scheme that by 1974 had recognized five hundred victims, nineteen of whom were already deceased. By 1977 the number of officially recognized pollution suffers had risen to 699 persons.121

Chiba residents first mobilized in 1972, forming the Chiba Kōgai Juku (Chiba Pollution Academy), which, as the name suggests, was initially not for protest but to gather objective data on the pollution problem in the city. To this end, local house wives kept “pollution diaries” while others built simple devices to measure sulfurous acid gas densities and levels of metal corrosion. Other members observed plant and animal life to gauge air pollution levels. All of this data was then collated and made public in a series of reports.122 According to the progressive AMPO magazine, in 1974 around a hundred people regularly attended monthly meetings and participated in grassroots monitoring initiatives associated with the academy.123 But the activities of the group began to change when Kawatetsu announced plans to construct a new—and sixth—blast furnace in May 1973.124 At this point the academy shifted from citizen science to vigorous opposition to Kawatetsu. In May 1975, two hundred Chiba residents instituted court proceedings against the company. The plaintiffs sought an injunction on construction of the sixth blast furnace, compliance of existing facilities with national environmental pollution standards, and compensation to forty-seven pollution victims or their bereaved families.125 Members of the Chiba Pollution Academy became involved in this initiative via the Chiba Kawatetsu Kōgai Soshō o Shien suru Kai (Chiba Kawatetsu Pollution Lawsuit Support Group), established to assist the plaintiffs and their families.126

Up to that point, the battle with Kawatetsu had been a local one, largely between the company and residents living within a three-mile (five-kilometer) radius of the facility. But all of this changed at the first public hearing at the Chiba district court in September 1975, when a Kawatetsu official stated during testimony that the sintering factory—an extremely pollutive stage in steel production—would be relocated to Mindanao Island in the Philippines and, hence, Chiba residents need not worry about pollution. Activists in the Chiba Pollution Academy now faced a conundrum similar to that of activists opposing the Toyama and Nippon Chemical companies. They had to choose between local egoism and transnational responsibility. Was it ethically acceptable to simply stop construction of the sintering plant in their own backyard, Old Maid style, or was something more fundamental at stake?127 By early 1976 they had made up their minds: Kawatetsu’s pollution (p.141) export plan was—in and of itself—ethically wrong, and they had a responsibility to oppose it whether at home or abroad.

Rooted cosmopolitan activists knowledgeable about the plight of the Filipinos played a vital role in convincing local Chiba activists to reach this decision and, moreover, to stay committed to a struggle across the sea. They relayed a story not only of pollution but also of political corruption and communal displacement that bore striking similarities to Kawatetsu’s disregard for human health and the environment in Chiba. Needless to say, the Chiba activists needed no lessons in the detriments of sintering, which is a preparatory treatment of iron ore in which pulverized ore is burnt with limestone and other minerals at extremely high temperatures to produce iron sinter suitable for blast furnace use. The burning process results in various waste products that cause air pollution and related detrimental environmental and human effects. Sulfur and nitrogen dioxide, for instance, cause human asthma and, in combination with atmospheric moisture, become acids that return to the ground as corrosive acid rain. Along with the gases, sintering also produces large quantities of dust, dioxins, and heavy metals such as zinc, cadmium, and lead, which, if not properly disposed of, can contaminate the ground and water.128

From spring 1974, Kawatetsu began construction of the sintering facility at Cagayan de Oro in the north of Mindanao Island. Thanks to the strong hand of the Philippine president, Ferdinand Marcos, it did so with absolute impunity.129 Marcos created a free trade zone for Kawatetsu that allowed it to fully own and control the newly established Philippine Sintering Corporation. He also gave the company tax-free and duty-free status on the importation of capital equipment, raw materials, and supplies, and exempted it from any export tax. As the KOGAI newsletter noted, “For good measure, there is cheap land and a cheap labor force and freedom to discharge pollution. … In a matter of speaking, the [free trade zone] is a nationalized territory of the foreign capitalists.”130 Kawatetsu brought plenty of corporate allies on board, contracting “every aspect of construction” to Japanese enterprises including Kobe Steel, Nippon Conveyor, and Hitachi Shipbuilding & Engineering.131 Marcos also paved the way for Kawatetsu politically by ratifying the Japan-Philippine Treaty of Amity, Commerce, and Navigation, which had lain idle for close to thirteen years because of strong domestic opposition in the Philippines. In talks with Japanese prime minister Tanaka Kakuei, Marcos also stated that “in order to promote the country’s industrialization and to develop the economy,” the Philippines was (p.142) willing to “accept the polluting plants which could not be permitted to expand any more in Japan.”132

The residents of Cagayan de Oro did not fare so well. Reports from the area that filtered back to Japan explained how some 1,500 house holds were given the “choice” of relocating to a government-provided alternative or other wise fending for themselves in the shadow of the sintering plant.133 The government alternative was a newly constructed village on 215 acres (eighty-seven hectares) of denuded land in the mountains twenty miles (thirty-two kilo meters) from Cagayan de Oro. Authorities called the new community “Andam Mouswag,” meaning “ready for progress” or “ready for take-off” and the “neat and modern housing development” was widely promoted as a “microscopic” version of the “New Society” Marcos and his “new breed of technocrats” envisioned for the Philippine nation.134 But in reports for AMPO and the Japanese-language monthly Gendai no Me, in late 1975, the Filipino activist Wilfredo Salvatierra described a very different situation, characterizing the “Alice in Wonderland” project as an attempt to “rewire” the community.135 Salvatierra observed that the whole scheme looked “very much like a copy of Mao’s ideas in China, except for one important detail: the people themselves have no say in what is done. They are similar to laboratory specimens, and Andam Mouswag is the laboratory. They were ordered out of their original barrio [neighborhood] of Nabacaan so that the Kawasaki Steel Corporation could build an iron sintering plant there. They were offered the choice of going to Andam Mouswag or fending for themselves.”136 Salvatierra described how coconut farmers were being retrained as carpenters, masons, and heavy equipment operators to work on the Kawatetsu construction site. Already by late 1974, some 70 percent of the men were employed there.137 Nevertheless, the displaced people were discontented with the shift from an earlier seaside subsistence lifestyle to a modern housing development where they were now compelled to engage in wage labor in order to pay the rent and feed their children. People still living in the vicinity of the sintering factory were also upset about the coming pollution. As one resident bluntly said to Salvatierra, “Do the Japanese people think we are idiots? Do they think we will open our arms and welcome ‘filth?’”138 Such opposition notwithstanding, construction of the sintering facility finished on time in January 1977 and, three months later, President Marcos and his wife Imelda attended the official opening ceremony.139 As nearby residents had feared, pollution ravaged the surrounding environment. Fishing stocks were hit particularly hard. What had previously been (p.143) a 130-pound (59 kilogram) daily catch shrank to a measly 6.5 pounds (three kilograms).140 Even President Marcos’s executive director for the relocation project, Alejandro Melchor, was equivocal about the wider benefits for the Philippines, saying “I don’t know, but it’s certainly benefiting certain people in the Philippines.”141

Alerted to these developments in Mindanao, in November 1975 activists in the Chiba Pollution Academy complemented their domestic struggle with a new initiative called “Don’t Make Mindanao Island a Second Chiba!,” which the journalist Sakakibara Shirō described as an attempt to “transcend local egoism” by supporting the movement to oppose Kawatetsu’s export of polluting processes to Mindanao.142 Activities included leafleting and media campaigns, lobbying Kawatetsu directly, public rallies and marches, numerous exchanges with Filipino activists, and fact-finding missions to Cagayan de Oro and Andam Mouswag. In September 1976, a handful of activists in the Pollution Academy led a street march from the Chiba prefectural government office to the front entrance of Kawatetsu’s iron mill in Chiba.143 Participants included Yamada Keizō, a Sophia University academic and pastor who had visited Mindanao on a fact-finding mission in August, along with schoolteachers, office workers, students, and house wives. In response Kawatetsu closed the iron gates at the entrance to the facility and stopped workers from entering or leaving. Observers at the time suggested that such measures “proved how threatened” Kawatetsu was “by the possibility of the people of Chiba and Mindanao joining together to raise their voice against pollution.”144 During the rally Yamada Keizō relayed the unfortunate experiences of people living near the Kawatetsu plant in Mindanao, and he appealed for a transnational grassroots solidarity movement to oppose Kawatetsu’s pollution export.

Filipino visitors also confirmed the story of far-off Japanese corporate environmental injustices during their visits to Japan. In November 1976 a Catholic nun and two priests from the Good Shepherd movement in Mindanao visited the Chiba factory to see the sintering process with their own eyes.145 Surveying the once-venerated “silver smoke” rising from Kawatetsu’s smokestacks, the nun wondered out loud: “Is this pollution?”146 In their meetings with the Chiba residents, the Filipino visitors were eager to learn about the health effects from the steelworks and also the kinds of political pressures faced by activists. With Yamada acting as interpreter, an elderly Chiba man suffering from pollution disease warned the Filipino visitors to be suspicious of leaves unseasonably changing color and falling off trees. (p.144) Holding back his tears, the usually reticent old man finished by saying “Thank you so much for coming here on such a cold day. I want to express my respect and gratitude to you all.”147 One of the Filipino priests used the opportunity to both thank and entreat his Japanese hosts: “First of all, I would like to express my deepest thanks on behalf of the Philippine people to the Japanese people for acting in solidarity with the residents of Cagayan de Oro in this Kawasaki Steel problem. … Together with you we intend to struggle to minimize the exploitation of Japanese capital.” The priest noted that all media—radio, TV, newspapers—were under the strict censorship of Marcos and how “the arrival of Japanese and American capital” was making the dictatorial regime “happy.”148 Under such conditions of political suppression the Filipino people were not able to easily resist the Kawatetsu project or any others, but the priest explained that the Marcos regime was very sensitive to criticism from without, especially from civic movements in Eu rope, North America, and Japan. “So, it will be of great support to us if the people of Japan communicate the situation of many people in the Philippines and the crimes of Japanese corporations through demonstrations and rallies and via the mass media. … We want all citizens movements [in Japan] to recognize that, regardless of the pollution, they should not be relieved when the contamination stops in Japan because there is a mechanism by which such harm is exported intact to other countries. … We pray for the growth of your movement and for solidarity with the people of the Philippines.”149

Japanese activists helped fortify this transnational solidarity through numerous visits to the Philippines. In the period from February 1975 to August 1976, Yamada Keizō traveled to Mindanao four times, where he consulted with people at the Cagayan de Oro construction site and with the residents of Andam Mouswag.150 Japanese Catholic priests used their institutional ties to communicate environmental knowledge from Japan, for example, by screening slideshows for locals on the human health effects of industrial pollution in Japan. For their part, the Filipinos were grateful, but some wondered—quite realistically—just how much the Japanese could achieve. During a 1976 visit to Cagayan de Oro, a local schoolteacher described the reality to Tsukamoto Hiroki of the ILP as follows: “We don’t want Kawatetsu to come but there is nothing we can do. At the very least we want them to properly install pollution prevention equipment. … We are extremely grateful that Japanese people have heard our voices. But will you be able to do anything in Japan to stop Kawatetsu setting up here?” (p.145) Tsukamoto was left nonplussed, admitting later that, “honestly speaking,” he “didn’t have the words to respond to this question.”151

Like Thailand and South Korea, the situation in the Philippines forced Japanese activists to reconsider the troubling entanglement of the local, the regional, and the historical. As the July 1976 edition of Jishu Kōza asked its readers, “How are we to answer such voices? What should we do? The voices of these Filipinos seeking independence accuse not only Kawatetsu but also we Japanese. By pushing forward with pollution export and economic aggression, this country and we too are once again becoming enemies of the people of Asia.”152 Jishu Kōza reminded its readers that the prosperity of Kawatetsu and Japan were “built on the destruction of Japanese people’s daily lives and through the sacrifice of Asian people’s blood.”153 Japanese industry was “actively exporting pollution to South Korea, Thailand, the Philippines, and even far-off Africa and South America, and planning its ‘economic invasion’ of these countries.” Ethical Japanese people could simply “not ignore” this “reality” nor the “demand of people from the Third World” to “live as human beings.”154

From South Korea to the Third World

Building on the momentum of these movements, in April 1976 the various Japanese movements protesting pollution export to South Korea, Thailand, the Philippines, and elsewhere gathered in Tokyo for the Ajia e no Kōgai Yushutsu o Kokuhatsu suru Shimin Daishūkai (Citizens Rally to Protest Pollution Export to Asia). The event attracted around 550 people from forty-six associations nationwide and was extensively covered in the national daily newspapers.155 Discussions about the relocation of polluting industries dominated, but activists also considered the broader issue of Japan’s so-called economic invasion abroad.156 Activists in the South Korean mobilizations and the Chiba Pollution Academy organized the event with the assistance of prominent groups involved in other specific cases of Japanese pollution export worldwide. By 1976, it should be noted, movements were pursuing Japanese corporate transgressions in all corners of the globe. For example, activists in the Afurika Kōdō Iinkai (African Action Committee) were actively opposing Japanese corporate involvement in Namibia, a country administered by the racist apartheid regime in South Africa in direct contravention of a resolution putting the country under UN trusteeship. Despite this blatant breach of international law, the Japanese Kansai Electric Power Company (KEPKO) continued to import uranium from Namibia. (p.146) On top of this, the Mitsubishi Corporation was also developing plans to sell nuclear power plants and related technology to South Africa.157 On the other side of the world, activists in the Raten Amerika Kōdō Iinkai (Latin American Action Committee) were opposing Japanese involvement in the Amazon Development Program in Brazil, which was desolating indigenous Indio communities through deforestation to make way for a highway.158 All in all, the 1976 event was a testament to the expanded vision that had developed within the Japanese environmental movement since activists’ first encounter with the pollution export problem at UNCHE in 1972. According to AMPO, “Report after report [at the rally] presented a ghastly picture of how the Japanese mini-Empire operates. The audience shared the understanding that Japanese capitalism came to flourish with the fertilizer of Korean and Vietnamese blood and is maintained by the blood and sweat of Third World people today.”159

Discussion and debate at the rally reiterated many of the themes explored throughout this chapter, especially the ways pollution export made ordinary Japanese and even activists complicit aggressors—albeit passive—in the environmental transgressions of Japanese industry abroad. Advocates for Minamata disease sufferers at the rally expressed a renewed appreciation for the transnational reach of Japanese industrial pollution. They noted how the struggle against pollution export had prompted them consider anew the blood-soaked history of their “foe,” the Chisso Corporation, which led the advance of Japanese capital onto the Korean peninsula and made profits through the sacrifice of the Korean people in the prewar and war time years. “This characteristic of Chisso continued thereafter in the form of Minamata disease and the suppression of its sufferers.”160 Of particular note is the way activists at the rally were now conceptualizing the movement and their own role in it as part of a broader struggle against environmental injustice worldwide. Consider the following extract from the Kyōdō Sengen (Joint declaration) at the 1976 rally:

We have rediscovered the shocking fact that our daily lives are built on the sacrifice of people of the Third World. The aggression did not end on August, 15, 1945, but revived through Japanese economic complicity in the Korean and Vietnam Wars. The Japanese ruling class called this affluence. But now we want to walk a new path which rejects affluence built on the sacrifice of our friends in the Third World. This difficult path involves a commitment to fundamentally reconstructing the (p.147) mechanism in which the Japanese economy cannot operate without economic aggression toward the various countries and ethnic groups of the Third World. … We can no longer be concerned only with the wellbeing of the Japanese people. We must start a new movement based on a new set of values in which anything that disadvantages the people of the Third World is something that we too must repudiate. In order to destroy all mechanisms which are obstructing the realization of both their and our common wellbeing, we want to join hands with them and struggle together with them.161

To this end, participants agreed to establish the Han-Kōgai Yushutsu Tsūhō Sentā (Anti-Pollution Export Center) as an organization to expose Japanese pollution export from the “inside.”162 They called on the support of courageous corporate whistle-blowers and people of the Third World, and committed the newly created center to conducting investigations that would “strike a concrete blow on the Japanese government and business world.”163 As the declaration concluded, “By clarifying the totality of our connections with the peoples of Asia and the Third World we at once become aware of our situation and our position and, moreover, just how important such awareness is right now.”164 In keeping with this new sentiment, activists updated the subtitle of the movement’s monthly, Don’t Let the Pollution Escape: Exposing Pollution Export to South Korea, by replacing “South Korea” (Kankoku) with “the Third World” (Daisan Sekai).165 This change in title not only spoke to an expanded geographical perspective but also, just as significantly, it signaled the evolution of a richer appreciation of the mechanisms of environmental injustice that overlaid victimhood with aggression—the fundamental contradiction haunting Old Maid or NIMBY logic. As I explain in the concluding chapter, I believe this melding of aggression with victimhood in Japanese groups’ struggles against pollution export marked an important transition in postwar civic thought in Japan. It broke with powerful mentalities of victimhood in earlier antipollution and pacifist thought and fashioned a new, more multidimensional, and reflexive basis for activist consciousness. In the following chapter, we see this consciousness further refined in the early-1980s struggle against environmental injustice in the Pacific involving a stubbornly long-lived pollutant: radioactive waste.


(2) Ui Jun, “‘Kōgai Senshin Koku Nippon’ no Sekinin: ‘Kokuren Ningen Kankyō Kaigi’ ni Sanka shite,” Kōmei 119 (September 1972): 66.

(4) T. J. Pempel, “Gulliver in Lilliput: Japan and Asian Economic Regionalism,” World Policy Journal 13, no. 4 (winter 1996–1997): 17; Derek Hall, “Pollution Export as State and Corporate Strategy: Japan in the 1970s,” Review of International Political Economy 16, no. 2 (2009): 262.

(7) Oda Makoto, ed., Ajia o Kangaeru: Ajiajin Kaigi no Zenkiroku (Tokyo: Ushio Shuppansha, 1976), 151.

(9) Derek Hall, “Environmental Change, Protest, and Havens of Environmental Degradation: Evidence from Asia,” Global Environmental Politics 2, no. 2 (2002): 22.

(11) Kaji Etsuko, “Kawasaki Steel: The Giant at Home,” AMPO: Japan-Asia Quarterly Review (hereafter AMPO) 26 (October–December 1975): 38.

(12) Ogawa Hiroshi, “Ajia no Mado: Nihon Kagaku no Kōgai Yushutsu o Kokuhatsu suru,” Jishu Kōza 42 (September 1974): 57, FJK 2–3, 307.

(13) Hall, “Pollution,” 269. For the original see “Kōgai, Amari Shinkei o Tsukawanuyō,” Geppō Kōgai o Nogasu na! (hereafter GKN) 1 (June 1974): 15–16.

(14) Wilfredo Salvatierra, “Kawasaki Steel: The Giant Abroad,” AMPO 26 (October–December 1975): 25.

(16) Beheiren is the acronym for Betonamu ni Heiwa o! Shimin Rengō; in English, The Citizens’ Federation for Peace in Vietnam. On Beheiren see Avenell, Making; Michiba Chikanobu, Senryō to Heiwa: Sengo to iu Keiken (Tokyo: Seidosha, 2005); and Thomas R. H. Havens, Fire Across the Sea: The Vietnam War and Japan 1965–1975 (New Jersey: Prince ton University Press, 1987).

(17) “Conference of Asians,” AMPO 21–22 (Summer-Autumn 1974): 2. For a discussion of the conference in the context of other early 1970s engagement between Japanese and Asian activists, see Michiba Chikanobu, “Posuto-Betonamu Sensōki ni okeru Ajia Rentai Undō: ‘Uchi naru Ajia’ to ‘Ajia no naka no Nihon’ no Aida de,” in Betonamu Sensō no Jidai 1960–1975-nen: Iwanami Kōza Higashi Ajia Kindai Tsūshi Dai 8-kan, ed. Wada Haruki, Gotō Ken’ichi, Kibata Yōichi, Yamamuro Shin’ichi, Cho Kyeungdal, Nakano Satoshi, Kawashima Shin (Tokyo: Iwanami Shoten, 2011), 111–115.

(18) Himeno Seiichirō and Yoshimatsu Sōichirō, “Nihon no Genchi o Otozurete,” Jishu Kōza 40 (July 1974): 4, FJK 2–3, 128.

(20) Ibid., 12.

(21) Hirayama Takasada, “Fujisawashi Yugyōji ni okeru Tīchiin,” Jishu Kōza 40 (July 1974): 5–9, FJK 2–3, 129–133.

(24) Ibid., 5–9; Matsuoka Nobuo, “Hachiōji no Honkaigi,” Jishu Kōza 40 (July 1974): 10–13, FJK 2–3, 134–137.

(25) See “Conference of Asians,” 7, 9; Ajiajin Kaigi, “Komittomento (Yaruzo!),” Jishu Kōza 40 (July 1974): 18–19, FJK 2–3, 142–143.

(p.251) (26) Henshūbu, “‘Ajiajin Kaigi’ ni tsuite,” in Ajia o Kangaeru, ed. Oda, 3.

(28) Ibid., 173.

(29) Ibid., 17.

(34) Ibid., 328.

(35) Inoue Sumio, “Babanuki no Riron o koete: Nihon Kagaku no Kuromu Tarenagashi to Kankoku e no Kōgai Yushutsu,” Tenbō 204 (December 1977): 87.

(36) Simon Avenell, “Regional Egoism as the Public Good: Residents’ Movements in Japan during the 1960s and 1970s,” Japan Forum 18, no. 1 (2006): 89–113.

(37) Matsuoka Nobuo, “Tōnan Ajia no Tabi kara (Marēshia nite),” Jishu Kōza 18 (September 1972): 1–4, FJK 3, 345–348. On his Singapore visit see Matsuoka Nobuo, “Tōnan Ajia no Tabi kara (ni): Shingapōru nite,” Jishu Kōza 19 (October 1972): 55–58, FJK 4, 59–62.

(38) Matsuoka Nobuo, “Mō Hitotsu no Omoni o Seou Kakugo o: Higashi Ajia no Tabi kara (san),” Jishu Kōza 20 (November 1972): 38, FJK 4, 106.

(39) Ibid., 104.

(41) Matsuoka Nobuo, “Watashitachi ni Nani ga Dekirunoka,” Jishu Kōza 24 (March 1973): 41, FJK 4, 379.

(42) Inoue Sumio, “Exporting Pollution: Asahi Glass in Thailand,” AMPO 18 (Autumn 1973): 39; Inoue Sumio, “Bokura wa Kōgai Yushtsu to Tatakai Hajimeta,” Tenbō 191 (November 1974): 50.

(43) Inoue, “Exporting,” 39; Inoue, “Bokura,” 50–51; Hirayama Takasada, “Exporting Pollution (The Export of ‘KOGAI’),” KOGAI 2 (Winter 1974): 4.

(45) Jishu Kōza Ajia Gurūpu, “Tai Asahi Kasei Sōda no Kasen Osen,” Jishu Kōza 31 (October 1973): 45–48, FJK 2–1, 375–378.

(51) Hirayama Takasada, “Tōnan Ajia Kōgai Saihakken no Tabi (1) Tai nite,” Jishu Kōza 31 (October 1973): 51, FJK 2–1, 381.

(57) Okuda Takaharu, “Nichitai o Musubu Kōgai Hantai Undō,” Jishu Kōza 44 (November 1974): 53, FJK 2–4, 57.

(59) Ibid., 52–53.

(60) Onodera Takuji, “9-gatsu 14-ka ‘Asahi Garasu wa Tai kara Tettai seyo! Nichitai Dōji Kōdō’ Hōkoku: Han-Keizai Shinryaku, Han-Kōgai Yushutsu no Kyōdō Sensen o,” GKN 5 (October 1974): 8.

(63) Ibid., 53.

(64) Ibid.; Okuda Takaharu, “Documents of the First Co-operation Between Japanese Citizens and Thai People Acting Simultaneously to Stop the Exporting Pollution,” KOGAI 7 (Spring 1975): 10–11.

(66) Ibid., 45.

(67) Ibid., 51.

(69) Ibid., 52.

(74) Ibid., 53.

(75) Ibid., 45.

(78) Inoue, “Bokura,” 55; Hirayama Takasada, “Toyama Kagaku, Kōgai Yushutsu Chūshi!?” Jishu Kōza 39 (June 1974): 28, FJK 2–3, 94.

(81) Executive Committee to Stop the Toyama Chemical Co. from Exporting Pollution, “Cut Off the Path of Retreat for Pollution: The Beginning of Anti-‘Pollution Exporting’ Movements by Combined Forces of Japanese and Korean Citizens,” KOGAI 7 (Spring 1975): 2.

(91) “Toyama Kagaku no Kōgai Yushutsu o Yamesaseru” Jikkō Iinkai, “Toyama Kagaku e no Tegami Zenbun,” GKN 2 (July 1974): 4.

(93) Inoue, “Bokura,” 57; Ogawa Yoshio, “Dai 2 no Toyama Kagaku = Nihon Kagaku no Kankoku e no Kōgai Yushutsu o Yamesaseyo,” GKN 3 (August 1974): 2.

(95) Action Committee to Stop Toyama Kagaku’s Pollution Export, “The Development of the Chromium Pollution Struggle: The Voices of the People of Japan and South Korea Encircle Nihon Kagaku,” AMPO 26 (October–December 1974): 84.

(97) Ibid., 59.

(99) Ogawa, “Dai 2,” 2; Hirayama Takasada, “Nihon Kagaku wa Kankoku kara Tettai seyo! Kuromu Kōgai Oshitsukeni Nikkan Ryōkoku Minshū no Ikari wa Takamaru,” Jishu Kōza 54 (September 1975): 55, FJK 3–1, 245.

(101) Masayoshi Hideo, “Nikkan no Genjō to Kōgai Yushutsu Soshi Undō,” GKN 7 (December 1974): 1.

(102) “Hokkaidō Tankōmura: Ikijigoku no naka no Chōsenjintachi,” GKN 38 (July 1976): 41–45. Translation of 1975 article in the South Korean publication Chukan Kyŏnghyang. For more on Nippon Chemical’s war time misdemeanors, see Ushio Tetsuya, “Nihon Kagaku no Kankoku de no 5-gatsu Sōgyō Kaishi Soshi,” Jishu Kōza 49 (April 1975): 54–62, FJK 2–4, 386–394.

(105) Ōno Yoshio, “Yattaze 31-nichikan!” Jishu Kōza 55 (October 1975): 37–40, FJK 3–1, 291–294.

(107) “Bokutō” refers to the three Tokyo wards of Edogawa, Kōtō, and Sumida.

(108) Kawana Hideyuki, Dokyumento Nihon no Kōgai 13: Ajia no Kankyō Hakai to Nihon (Tokyo: Ryokufu, 1996): 101.

(109) “Nihon Kagaku Dai 8-kai Kōgi Demo ni Sanka: ‘Damatte irarenai’ Jimoto Higaisha ga Dantai o Kessei,” Tōyō Keizai Nippō (June 27, 1975), GKN 14 (July 1975): 31.

(112) “‘Kōgai Sangyō Kankoku Shinshutsu’ Nihon de Hantai Undō,” translation from original article in Tong-A Ilbo (August 13, 1975), GKN 16 (September 1975): 2.

(113) “Kōgai Sangyō Dōnyū ni Shinchō o,” GKN 16 (September 1975): 6–7. Translation from article in Tong-A Ilbo (August 13, 1975).

(115) Yoshiwara Toshiyuki, “The Kawasaki Steel Corporation: A Case Study of Japanese Pollution Export,” KOGAI 14 (Summer 1977): 12.

(121) Sakakibara Shirō, “‘Shūdan no Hakken’: Chiba Kōgai Juku,” Gendai no Me 19, no. 2 (February 1978): 214.

(125) Sakakibara, “‘Shūdan,” 216; Akino Kaoru, “Genchi Repōto: Kawatetsu Mindanao Kōjō to Chikaku no Gyoson o Otozurete,” GKN 149 (November–December 1985): 18; Kaji, “Kawasaki,” 34.

(129) Tan Nobuhiro, “Firipin e no Kōgai Yushutsu—Kawasaki Seitetsu,” GKN 26 (January 1976): 90.

(133) For one of the earliest reports from the sintering plant site, see Wilfredo Salvatierra, “Kawasaki Seitetsu to Firipin Kaihatsu: Nihon Kigyō Yūchi ni karamu Seiryoku Shinchō e no Omowaku kara Shinshutsu ni taisuru Bimyō na Zure ga Umarehajimeteiru,” Gendai no Me 16, no. 12 (December 1975): 219–225.

(136) Ibid., 24.

(137) Ibid., 25.

(138) Ajia to Nihon o Kangae Kōdō suru Kai, “Ajia o Okasu Kawatetsu o Ute,” Jishu Kōza 64 (July 1976): 11, FJK 3–2, 409.

(146) Tsukamoto Hiroki, “Kokonatsu no Mura wa Kieta,” Jishu Kōza 69 (December 1976): 12 FJK 3–3, 268.

(147) Ibid., 269.

(148) “Tomo ni Rentai shite Tatakaō! Firipin Katoriku Shinpu wa Uttaeru,” GKN 47 (March 1977): 6.

(149) Ibid., 8.

(150) Yamada Keizō, “Mindanao e no ‘Kōgai Yushutsu,’” Ushio (December 1976): 194–203.

(152) Ajia to Nihon, “Ajia o Okasu,” FJK 3–2, 410.

(153) Ibid., 411.

(155) “‘Kōgai Yushutsu wa Yurusanu’: Jūmin Dantai Tsūhō Sentā o Settchi,” Asahi Shinbun (morning edition, April 9, 1976): 22; Yoneda Hideo, “Kōgai Yushutsu o Sasaeru Kōzō o Ute: Nihon Kagaku no Kankoku Urusan Kōjō Shigatsu Sōgyō Kaishi Soshi,” Jishu Kōza 61 (April 1976): 24–25, FJK 3–2, 229–230.

(156) Okuda Takaharu, “Anti-Pollution Movements Get Together to Oppose Japan’s Overseas Aggression,” AMPO 28 (April–September 1976): 10; Yamagishi Junko, “Tatakai wa Korekara da! Nihon Kagaku no Kankoku Urusan Kōjō no Sōgyō o Yamesaseyō!” GKN 35 (May 1976): 4; Ushio Tsunao, “4.8 Ajia e no Kōgai Yushutsu o Kokuhatsu suru Shimin Daishūkai: Hōkoku,” GKN 35 (May 1976): 16–21.

(157) “Anata no Jōshiki Watashi no Odoroki: Han Kōgai Yushutsu Tsūhō Sentā Setsuritsu,” GKN 35 (May 1976): 24.

(p.256) (158) Ibid., 23–24.

(160) Tokyo Minamatabyō o Kokuhatsu suru kai, “4.25 Tokyo Minamatabyō o Kokuhatsu suru Kai no Apīru,” GKN 35 (May 1976): 33.

(161) Han-Kōgai Yushutsu Tsuhō Sentā, “Ajia no Gisei no Ue ni Naritatsu Bunmei o kyohi suru,” Jishu Kōza 62 (May 1976): 7, FJK 3–2, 275.

(163) 4.8 “Ajia e no Kōgai Yushutsu o Kokuhatsu suru Shimin Daishūkai” Sankasha Ichidō, “Kyōdō Sengen,” GKN 35 (May 1976): 21. Also see Michiba, “Posuto-Betonamu,” 116–120.

(165) Two years later, in April 1978 (issue number 84) the Independent Lectures movement changed the title of its monthly from Jishu Kōza (The Independent Lectures) to Tsuchi no Koe, Tami no Koe (Voices of the Earth, Voices of the People), a title borrowed from the nineteenth-century Japanese antipollution activist Tanaka Shōzō, which resonated with the Third World sensitivity developing among some Japanese environmental groups.