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Reviewed by:
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Protest Music after Fukushima by Noriko Manabe
  • Henry Johnson (bio)
The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Protest Music after Fukushima. By Noriko Manabe. Oxford University Press, New York, 2015. xviii, 433 pages. $99.00, cloth; $27.95, paper.

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised is divided into two sections: "The Background" and "Spaces of Protest." The three chapters in the first section introduce underpinning theoretical topics that explore political music under self-censorship, structures of power and civil resistance, and musicians in the antinuclear movement. The second section has four main chapters before a conclusion, each focused on a specific location in which protest and music take place. These are cyberspace, demonstrations, festivals, and recordings.

The main title of Noriko Manabe's book is borrowed from a poem and song by Gil (Gilbert) Scott-Heron (1949–2011), who was an active antinuclear and anticonservative performer. At the beginning of the book, Manabe comments on the book's "Companion Website," which is available through Oxford University Press. I began this review by exploring the website thoroughly and found it to be most useful and comprehensive. In general, the supporting companion is an excellent source for primary and supplementary information, with text, images, audio, and video within an interactive interface designed to take the user on a journey of media consumption. My exploration first delved in at different points as a way of quickly gaining an overview of what was on offer. I was interested in the author's borrowing of the title of Scott-Heron's song, and a relevant page gave me some Japanese text, photographs, and a video. A further link took me to a YouTube video of the song in question and another to a Japanese version, although with no explanatory information in English, which would have been useful for the non-Japanese readership the book is aimed at. I did enjoy going back to the Japanese text on the page and following the Japanese version of the song, and all this was just the tip of the online resource. Indeed, if this review might begin on the companion resource, then the author and publisher are to be commended for providing and compiling such in-depth materials that enhance significantly an already substantial book of over 400 pages. In all, the reader is recommended to explore this excellent resource before, during, and after reading the book. It links to numerous videos, and other multimedia websites provide invaluable sources that can be easily used with the book, not only by the interested reader but also for classroom teaching at a higher level of education in fields such as ethnomusicology, Japanese studies, and other social, cultural, and critical studies. [End Page 471]

Back to the text. The book is about the protest music performed after the Fukushima nuclear disaster that resulted from the colossal magnitude 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami off the northeast coast of Japan on March 11, 2011, events now commonly referred to in English as 3/11. The earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear devastation caused over 15,000 deaths and numerous injuries and missing people. While the nation moved into a mode of traumatic response to the disaster in terms of the physical destruction and loss of lives, an antinuclear movement was reignited as a result of the meltdowns at Tokyo Electric Power Company's nuclear plant in Fukushima Prefecture, which had been struck by the tsunami. The aftermath of 3/11 fueled social protest across Japan, both as a response to the Fukushima disaster and more broadly against the government's policy toward nuclear energy. In her insightful and thought-provoking book, Manabe captures the Japanese national imagination of 3/11 and offers a scholarly background to the antinuclear movement along with a critical ethnography of various spheres of response that were the consequence of mass protests.

In her introduction to the book, Manabe outlines the context of self-censorship whereby individuals and those in the public sphere are discouraged from voicing their political concerns about controversial issues. As well as looking at such restraints, the author skillfully "analyzes … how music is used to communicate an antinuclear message...