Japan’s Green Networks: Going Transnational?

Vogt, Gabriele GND

Recently much has been written about a new era of social movement activism brought about by the transnationalization of social movement organizations, i.e., the organizations’ development from SMO (social movement organizations) to TSMO (transnational social movement organizations). This working paper asks whether the transnationalizing of social movement activism indeed broadens the movements’ range of action and thus also strengthens their position within a domestic political opportunity structure. Environmental non-governmental organizations in Japan will serve as a case study. I juxtapose the objectives of environmental TSMO activism in Japan with the actual outcomes of their activism, i.e. the extent of the impact they have on the political decision making process in Japan. For this study, I highlight a set of three criteria that, to a large degree, determine the conditions for social movement activism, namely technological progress, public support, and legal framework. I argue that (T)SMO activism in Japan has indeed grown dramatically during the last decade, in terms of both quality and quantity, but has so far failed to tap into its full potential. This brief study argues that the unusually strong NIMBY (Not in My Backyard) character of environmental activism in Japan might be one reason for the still relatively weak position of environmental (T)SMOs in that country.

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