Film Review: Tell the Prime Minister

Eiji Oguma | 104 menit | Jepang | 2015 | PG

Through cross-class characters, Eiji Oguma present a film about how complex is Japanese people’s struggle in facing threats of using nuclear as a power plant. Oguma’s background as a professor of Policy Management in Keio University and had presented a paper titled “Japan’s Nuclear Power and Anti Nuclear Movement from a Socio-Historical Perspective in 2012 makes “Tell The Prime Minister (2015) rich of perspective in seeing Fukushima nuclear reactor explosion tragedy.

The paper that has Oguma presented in Conference on Towards Long-term Sustainability: In Response to the 3/11 Earthquake and the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster, Center for Japanese Studies, University of California Berkeley highlighting about the emergence of several new social movement on Japanese histrory. He then continuing the paper by writing an essay “A New Wave Against The Rock: New Social Movements In Jalan since The Fukushima Nuclear Meltdown that is published in The Asia-Pacific Journal in 2016, then the ideas of the journal became a research of this film. Access on important figures in anti-nuclear movement after Fukushima disaster that earned by Oguma when he was completing his essay makes  selection of character in this film became something vital in bringing the audience into history of nuclear and Japan.

Naoto Kan, Japan Prime Minister when the Fukushima Disaster occured, answered how Japan, despite their dark history with nuclear, could have more than 50 nuclear reactors in 2011. He  showed how difficult it was, even for a Prime Minister that was so activein standing up for anti-nuclear movement since his  college days to change the existing circumstances. This cannot be separated from the context of nuclear power presence in Japan. The nuclear power it self can’t be separated from economic interest and foreign affairs. This is then bringing us to the following problem through character like Sachiko Kameya, a mother lived 1.5 KM away from Fukushima nuclear reactor.

Kameya presented his  experience of horror and depression. The fear that is too complex including  some aspects , from panic that was arised because of nuclear reactor meltdown up to the abstaint of media as an information source so that they didn’t know what is actually happened. The real fear that didn’t choose people by their social, economy, and political background. The fear and depression that was dragging them up to a point where they feeling there’s something wrong, made them los t their faith of the authority and decided to do something to change the circumstance. A small action, yet quite fundamental in the raising of a resistance, seizing the control of information circulation.

We catched what they did is quite fundamental because it have similarity with Paulo Freire’s learning concept. A learning process that is not only just read and write, but also an effort to give a speaking chance for unprivileged people. As  a developed country in the economic aspect and development, Japanese people wasn’t growing in the freedom culture that is putting forward freedome of speech as an important aspect. This is can be seen from some conflict of the nuclear reactore victim when they were trying to express their opinions. They didn’t faced with such obstacles like state-police’ ferocity, but about how difficult  the matter to be done personally, because of the taboo stigma. A stigma that was born from the combination of  bad precedent of terrorism by Japan facist group on 1970 decade and the increasing of economic development.

Then, the audience will be presented an honest rebellion because it begun with a long prosess of a group of people that was trying to make peace with themselves and defeat their fears. We will not be presented a scene of a mass movement that was moved by testosterone and adrenaline. More than that, the way he see a nucleare reactor meltdown in Fukushima giving big impact to people’s life and motivating them to do something that is never done before.

Japanese people’s struggle to fight nuclear untilization is a long history. Started from raising of concern for the environtment in 1960-1970 decade, social movement after Fukushima Disaster was only a historical fragment that is never ending, seeing from how scary is a country drived by corporation coalition and bureaucrats. They maybe not as dramatic as revolution story about a civilization that is in the verge of civil war or social-politic conflict. However, watching a group of people that is very well understand about the meaning of the lyric “If you tolerate this, your children will be next” by Manic Streen Preachers, this film is really not something to miss on.

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