Photographers on contemporary protest and social movements in Japan

In teaching us a new visual code, photographs alter and enlarge our notions of what is worth looking at and what we have a right to observe. They are a grammar and, even more importantly, an ethics of seeing. Finally, the most grandiose result of the photographic enterprise is to give us the sense that we can hold the whole world in our heads — as an anthology of images.

Susan Sontag, On Photography (1977)

A picture is worth a thousand words, as the idiom goes, and perhaps one major flaw in my endeavour to monitor radical social movements in Japan on this online platform is the failure to provide a visual record of them. For images, though, I defer to my betters — and there are many of them.

There are various photographers, both Japanese and non-Japanese, documenting contemporary protest and social movements in Japan. In the hope of providing a photographic resource for the kinds of movements discussed on this website, the following is a basic round-up of some prominent examples currently based in Japan.

The photographers and videographers are listed alphabetically and without bias in terms of career level (professional or amateur). It is by no means a definitive inventory, nor are these photographers working in this field exclusively per se.

Rio Akiyama
A videographer who covers many social movements, but has made a mark particularly with hate speech counter protests.

Guillaume Bression
Work was conspicuous during the height of the SEALDs protests and the group’s exposure in the overseas press. He has also taken a strong interest in the effects of the Fukushima disaster.

Damon Coulter
British photojournalist who covers a broad range of subjects, including far-left rallies and marches that rarely receive attention today. He also follows the far Right and events at Yasukuni Shrine, among many other things.

Nicolas Datiche
French photojournalist with an impressive catalogue of images of recent protests in Japan. He has also covered protests and other developments in Taiwan.

Pierre Emmanuel Delétrée
Another French photojournalist with a wide portfolio, including a strong collection of protest images.

Kjeld Duits
Dutch photojournalist and videographer whose work was salient, for example, among press coverage of the 2015 security bill protests at the National Diet in Tokyo. He also extensively covers street fashion.

Richard Atrero de Guzman
Filipino photographer and film-maker with a wide purview, though his passion is for social issues. Also known as Bahag Bahagski.

Incidentally, Delétrée, Coulter, de Guzman and Datiche share their work on the platform Japan Street Lens.

anti-emperor republican demonstration protest group japan kichijoji tokyo ultra-nationalist

Natsuki Kimura
Covers a lot of protests happening at the Diet area and around Tokyo, including SEALDs and anti-nuclear power protests. He has particularly contributed to documenting hate speech counter-protests.

Mitsutaka Konoura
Seems to attend an almost unhealthy number of leftist protests and other street events. His Twitter updates, in particular, provide a regular chronicle of many movements.

Takashi Makabe
Uploads frequent videos to YouTube covering anti-nuclear demonstrations, anti-war rallies at the Diet and precariat protests.

Bruce Meyer-Kenny
New Zealander who has followed many protest movements, including anti-nuclear power and and pro-Constitution ones, as well as Yasukuni Shrine and social issues such as the Fukushima disaster.

Michael Penn
Videographer who runs an independent news agency with a distinctly left-wing bent.

Rody Shimazaki
Has built up a large catalogue of images from antifa counter-protests as well as protests in Okinawa and at the Diet.

Shinta Yabe
Relative newcomer who has documented an impressive array of hate speech counter-protests, protests at the Diet by the likes of Public for Future and the Metropolitan Coalition Against Nukes, and other street events. His Tumblr account is a valuable resource.


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