Alexander Brown

Alexander Brown, Melanie Barnes and Nick Southall write about John Rainford's contributions to communist, labour and social movements.

Events were held around the country on March 11 to mark three years since an earthquake and subsequent tsunami laid waste to the north-east coast of Japan. The earthquake and tsunami disasters killed 18,600 people and about 2700 bodies have never been recovered. The disaster damaged the Fukushima nuclear power plant, whose cooling systems failed, leading to a series of explosions and catastrophic meltdowns in three reactor cores. More than 150,000 people who were forced to evacuate the area are still unable to return to their homes in the Fukushima region.
Future Fund CEO Mark Burgess was met by protesters when he spoke in Sydney on August 20. Members of dressed as nuclear missiles to highlight the fund's investment in nuclear weapons manufacturing. The Future Fund, an Australian government investment fund established in 2006, has $227 million invested in 16 nuclear weapons companies. These companies make nuclear weapons and related infrastructure for France, Britain, the United States, India and Israel.
About 160 people attended the Sydney premiere of on August 9, also known as Nagasaki Day. This new documentary by Atsushi Funahashi explores the lives of refugees from Japan's Fukushima nuclear disaster.
About 40 people gathered in Wollongong on August 6 to commemorate the 68th Hiroshima Day. The day marks the anniversary of the atomic bomb being dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima by the United States in 1945. The bomb caused tremendous devastation and instantly killed between 70,000-80,000 people. By the year’s end the bomb had claimed 140,000 lives.
A forum at the University of Wollongong on August 1 called "Trouble in the Edufactory: The Sydney Uni Strike and the Struggle for the University" heard from Sydney university PhD student and casual academic staff member Mark Gawne. Gawne, a graduate of the University of Wollongong, described this year's series of strikes at Sydney as the product of years of dissatisfaction among staff and students over increasing cutbacks.
Last week I had a dream that my house in the western part of Tokyo was shaking violently around me. Then I woke up and discovered it wasn’t a dream at all. It was a 5.3 magnitude earthquake with its epicentre in nearby Saitama. It was the second earthquake I had felt in less than a week following the March 11 anniversary of Japan's earthquake and tsunami disaster. It was a frightening and potent reminder of exactly why it is so important to rid Japan of nuclear power plants.
Five anti-nuclear activists travelled from Australia to attend the Global Conference for a Nuclear Power Free World held in the Japanese port city of Yokohama, over January 14–15. The conference was attended by 11,500 people over the two days including 100 international participants from 30 countries.
On Hiroshima Day, on August 6, two events were held in Wollongong to remember the terrible events of 1945. About 30 peace activists gathered around the Peace Plaque in the city mall to remember the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This year, 30 people shared a one-minute silence at 8:15am, the time the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.
More than 65,000 people in cities and towns all over Japan marched on June 11 to mark three months since Fukushima nuclear disaster. Marchers called for an end to nuclear power. In Tokyo, separate marches took off from different routes through the city before assembling in front of Shinjuku station. The largest action, a “sound-demo” called by the Shiroto no Ran (“Amateur Riot”) network attracted thousands of young people. They marched through the city accompanied by sound-trucks plying a variety of musical styles, from punk to folk to techno.
About 15,000 people attended the “No Nukes” protest in the central Tokyo district of Koenji on April 10. The rally called for assistance to those affected by the March earthquake and tsunami disaster, and for an end to nuclear power. Organisers said more than 1.23 million yen (A$14,000) had been raised for those affected by the disaster. About 2500 people joined a separate rally in another part of the city calling for the Hamaoka nuclear plant in Shizuoka to be switched off. The Hamaoka plant is on a fault line considered likely to be affected by future quakes.
On March 20, 1500 people marched in Tokyo opposing nuclear power in the aftermath of the nuclear power plant disaster in Fukushima that followed the devastating March 9 earthquake. Protesters also opposed the imposition of fiscal austerity by the government in the face of the earthquake disaster. Activists have also staged speak-outs at the offices of Tokyo Electric, which runs the Fukushima plants, and government offices.
Two activists were arrested on February 20 at a demonstration outside the US Embassy in Tokyo. The activists were taking part in a demonstration against the construction of a United States military base in Okinawa. The activists were released from custody on March 5. Their supporters are campaigning for the charges against them to be completely dropped. The demonstrators had received police permission to rally. But on reaching the embassy, protesters were greeted by a wall of police.
A long running struggle to save a public park in the central Tokyo ward of Shibuya from private development by sporting goods company Nike intensified on September 15. The Shibuya ward authorities sealed off the park and deployed police and private security guards to stop activists and homeless people who live in the park from re-entering. Activists had been occupying the park since March. Situated in the centre of downtown Tokyo, Miyashita Park has long been an oasis of trees amid the high-rise buildings and expensive retail outlets of Shibuya.
After a long hiatus, the Broad Left Collective has reformed in Wollongong. Broad Left played a valuable role in circulating left and progressive news in the Illawarra community from its inception in 1987 until its dissolution over the course of 2002-3. At a meeting held in June this year to discuss reforming the collective it was agreed that Broad Left could continue to play a valuable role in linking up left and progressive people and groups across the Illawarra.
Subscribe to Alexander Brown