(Interview begins starting from 29:50)
AMY GOODMAN: Hundreds of protesters also joined rallies in Tokyo over the weekend, expressing frustration at youth unemployment and the dangers of nuclear power in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi accident.
To talk more about the protest, we’re going to Tokyo to talk to Gerome Rothman, field director of the Tokyo General Union, the largest foreign-led labor union in Japan. He’s lived in Japan for five-and-a-half years and participated in the Occupy Tokyo movement over the weekend.
Gerome, welcome to Democracy Now! We’re seeing if we can get him in Tokyo. If not, we will move on to hear voices of people throughout, as we continue this round robin of voices of protests around the country and around the world. Let’s see if we can get Gerome on right now. We’re trying to get him on Democracy Now! video stream in Tokyo.
Gerome, are you with us?
GEROME ROTHMAN: Yes, I’m here. Can you see me OK?
AMY GOODMAN: How significant is Occupy Wall Street for the protests that are happening now in Japan? I mean, there have been protests in Japan because of this horrific nuclear power—these meltdowns that have resulted from all that took place before.
GEROME ROTHMAN: Yes, Amy. I think that it was really inspiring to read the news and watch programs like this, learning about the Occupy Wall Street movement. As a result, in this protest, it wasn’t only Japanese workers there, but foreign workers. And for the first time, I think about 30 percent of us were immigrants. So I think the Occupy Wall Street movement really made us feel like it’s our opportunity, our time to invest ourselves in the Japanese community, to build a multicultural and socially just Japan. One of the people I talked to, I asked him why he was there, and his response was, “Because I can’t be on Wall Street.” And I feel the same exact way. I can’t be on Wall Street, but I live in Japan, and there’s a way for me to show my support and really join to support the 99 percenters in—on Wall Street.
AMY GOODMAN: Linking up of the anti-nuclear movement in Japan and the rest of the world, the significance of this? I know people are coming from Japan to the United States to link up with activists here.
GEROME ROTHMAN: Well, the common thread is corporate greed. Corporate greed is what fuels industries like the nuclear power industry. I mean, TEPCO is a private company. It’s still a private company. I checked this morning, just to be sure for you. And this is—even people in our union—we have people in our union who support nuclear power, but even people in our union who do still agree that corporations must be accountable, must be accountable for making our energy safe, making our environment clean. And so, it’s about making sure that we don’t fuel our energy policy with corporate greed. We need to fuel our energy policy and our labor policy with a desire to improve human flourishing in countries like Japan and the United States.
As far as the linking up is concerned, I think that it needs to be a global, democratic movement, if we’re going to confront the evils of the nuclear power industry, if we’re going to confront the evils of unfair working conditions and unfair free—so-called free trade, free trade agreements, that just challenge our ability to have fair labor standards and fair environmental standards.