The demonstrations against the restarting of the Oi nuclear power plant held recently on Friday nights outside Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's residence are very much directed at the occupant of that abode, but they are attracting attention around the world, too. One of their closest followers is a Japanese expatriate based some 12,000 km away: Ryuichi Sakamoto.

"There was a large demonstration tonight, and they were there till a few minutes ago," Sakamoto mentioned to The Japan Times by telephone from New York last Friday. It was as though the man whose stellar career with the electro-pop band Yellow Magic Orchestra took him to New York some 22 years ago was reporting from the picket line himself.

Yet, Sakamoto's close observation of his home country's still-nascent antinuclear-power movement stems partly from a fear that it might not achieve anything. "For so long in Japan it has been normal for people to not voice their opinions," he said. "The Fukushima crisis changed that, making dissent more acceptable, but I'm worried that this mood could fizzle out at any moment."