Abe Heckled at Rengo’s May Day Rally

Added by Michael Penn on April 27, 2014. · No Comments · Share this Post

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SNA (Tokyo) – Prime Minister Shinzo Abe may be comforted by public support in the 50%-60% range, depending on which poll you believe, but he definitely stepped into rather uncomfortable territory when he appeared yesterday at Rengo’s annual May Day rally in Yoyogi Park.

Although the prime minister was warmly greeted by Rengo President Nobuaki Koga, the introductory speech was a calculated warning aimed at his esteemed guest. Koga warned of the importance of maintaining protections for workers and noted that human beings are not commodities to be bought and sold by big business.

The surprising moment came when Prime Minister Abe himself came to the microphone. Just as he began speaking, loud heckling arose from the center of the crowd. It sounded like about 20-30 people who were likely a single group that had planned ahead to begin heckling in unison.

For most of the audience, it was so loud that it drowned out what the prime minister was saying. The heckling went on for about one minute before the main group fell silent, apparently scolded by other audience members around them. Still, throughout Abe’s speech, various shouts of protest could be heard from other parts of the audience. The latter yells often sounded as if they came from female critics of the Japanese leader.

During the loud initial minute of heckling, Prime Minister Abe began his speech as if nothing was amiss and showed no obvious reaction. The Japanese television media also ignored the protest and was focused entirely on Abe’s speech, many of them not even turning their heads to look.

One man, who seemed to be a print reporter, shouted back at the protesters urging them to shut up, as he couldn’t hear what the prime minister was saying. Apparently, he felt that his job as a journalist was only to record Abe’s words, not to report comprehensively on the events that suddenly confronted him at the rally.

But that print reporter seems to have known his job well, as not one of the Japanese television or print accounts of the event even mentioned the heckling, nor quoted anyone at the event rather than the officials who were on the main stage. For the mainstream Japanese media, it was a non-event.

It had been thirteen years since an LDP prime minister appeared at Rengo’s annual May Day event. Considering the open disapproval that Abe faced at this year’s event, one wonders how long it will be until the next such appearance.

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Source: Shingetsu News Agency

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About the Shingetsu News Agency

The Shingetsu News Agency (SNA) was established in December 2010 by Michael Penn, a former university lecturer and journalist specialized in West Asian and Japanese history and politics. The SNA’s home office is located in Santa Barbara County, California, but our intensive news-gathering activities take place primarily through our Tokyo branch office.

The SNA aims to help fill the gap between the mainstream Japanese-language media, which is often well-resourced but burdened with a tendency to avoid investigative journalism and an unwillingness to communicate effectively with the outside world; and the foreign international media, whose presence in Tokyo is far weaker than most people realize, especially when it comes to video journalism.

The net result is that Japan becomes a poorly understood nation both in its positive aspects as well as its negative dimensions.

The SNA’s dedicated team of journalists, cameramen, and video editors are working to reveal those underappreciated sides of Japan both for our clients as well as for the benefit of international society and the public more generally.

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