Ryan Smith passed away last month. The West Virginia native had lived in Japan since 2008 and, under the tongue-in-cheek moniker Jon Doe, documented various aspects of Japanese social movements through videos he posted on YouTube.
According to his Japan Times obituary, Smith left behind a wife and young daughter. The passionately political Tozen Union member described himself on Facebook as “a man trying to make it in this world without going crazy in the process”.
While we never actually met, I had seen Smith at least once at a rally, standing at the back and filming the proceedings as he provided impromptu narration. In lieu of a proper tribute, then, I wanted to draw attention to his YouTube channel, which I hope will stay online. In addition to more personal video blogs, such as his touching response to becoming a father, the channel contains a large number of useful videos that can serve as records of various protests and movements. Many aspects of social movements are not documented and survive afterwards only in the form of organisers’ flyers and handouts. As such, these kinds of videos made by a (relatively neutral) outsider or participant function as a practical archive for activists, researchers and interested citizens.
Smith left far too many videos to share them all, but here are a few highlights.
Dōrō-Chiba National Workers Rally, 1 November 2015 (Hibiya, Tokyo)
Protest Against Revision of Article 9, 18 September 2015 (Tokyo)
Article 9 March, 12 July 2015 (Hikarigaoka, Tokyo)
Counter-Protest Against Racist March, 17 May 2015 (Akihabara)
Dōrō-Chiba National Workers March 2014 (Tokyo)
No Genocide in Gaza Protest 3 August 2014 (Tokyo)