Japan Environmental Exchange

"Report on the 40th Anniversary Gala of Public Citizen"

by Kyoko Hosoki, J.E.E. Kyoto

Public Citizen founded by Ralph Nader, who has been an American consumer advocate, held the 40th Anniversary Gala at Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington D.C. last October 20th.

Public Citizen is a non-profit organization founded by Mr. Nader in 1971 who has been serving as a public interest lawyer.
Mr. Nader thought people in general tend to seek their own happiness or their families as a private citizen. He introduced a new idea on the possibility of becoming a public citizen who seek for the public interest.
Mr.Nader invited the American people saying, “Why don't you become a Public Citizen not indulging in your own euphoria" in his message to the American people in the N.Y. Times.(1971)

J.E.E., recommended the late Mrs. Katsuko Nomura who was a citizen activist as a
candidate for the 1000 women leaders for the Nobel Peace Prize. She had visited
Mr. Nader's office in Washington D.C. and asked him to come to Japan to empower the Japanese citizens in 1971.
Representing J.E.E. I decided to join the 40th Anniversary of Public Citizen in order to follow in the footsteps of the late Mrs. Katsuko Nomura.
I left for Washington to have a first-hand experience with the citizen movement in the U.S. with Ms. Keiko Nomura who I had met at a ceremony held in memory of the late Mrs. Katsuko Nomura.

Mr. Nader published a book titled “Danger at any Speed. The Designed-in Dangers of the American Automobile" and filed a complaint against General Motor's “ Corvair". This was his first book which turned into a best-seller and made him a forerunner of consumer advocacy.

What Mr. Nader found out by persistently seeking corporate social responsibility was that corporations engage in lobbying activities trying to pass their own bills only to benefit them.

In order to breakthrough this situation, he was determined to engage in lobbying activities as equally as corporations aiming to enact a law for the interest of the citizens.
This marked the birth of Public Citizen without receiving any money neither from corporations nor from government.

The day before the Gala, we visited on office in The center for the Study of Responsive Law which is the headquarters of Mr. Nader.
Mr. Rchard, the manager welcomed us in spite of his busy schedule before the Gala
and gave us dozens of books.

I offered the manager a paperboard on which Mr. Nader's cartoon is painted by Dr. Takatsuki and J.E.E. Eco- calendar, asking him to give them to Mr. Nader.
One of the staff members in the Center told us that Mr. Nader likes to receive calendars as a gift, which made us very happy.

When we met with Mr.Nader during the reception, he remarked that our government has concealed information apparently referring to the Fukushima nuclear tragedy. It was a moment when we were compelled to experience how severe he can be in attacking corporations and government seeking their social responsibility.

Shortly after establishing Public Citizen, he launched the Anti-Nuclear Energy Group simply because nuclear energy cannot serve as a sustainable energy and passes on nuclear waste to the next generation of our children. He is totally against nuclear energy. We are strongly reassured because we share the same view with Mr. Nader, aiming to create a sustainable society without depending on nuclear energy.

At the 40th anniversary, more than 550 participants including Public Citizen members, U.S.Reps. and supporting organizations and others gathered from all parts of the U.S.

As it was my first time to join an elegant celebration like this, I sat nervously at a round table where my name plate was placed.
While enjoying dinner congratulatory remarks were made one after another highlighting the activities that had taken place for as long as 40years.

Four prominent figures contributing to the foundation of Public Citizen were honored, not to mention Mr. Nader. Ms. Joan Claybrook was one of those contributors who came to Japan in 1971 with Mr. Nader. She served as the first director of the National Traffic Safety Bureau which was set up within the Bureau of Transport by Mr. Nader. The present Public Citizen building was named after her, honoring her dedication to Public Citizen as a director for as many as 27 years.

Before and after the celebration, “Occupy Wallstreet Demonstrations" took place.
Public Citizen had issued a statement saying it remains in solidarity with those participating in the demonstration. Furthermore, it has explicitly clarified its position of confronting the richest 1% while representing 99% of the society.
The staff members of Public Citizen made a visit to where the demonstrations took place and explained their policies and even engaged in teach-ins,

As the U.S. is confronted with inequality issues and other serious problems, there reflected a strong determination on the part of each participant to defend, more than ever for the next 40 years, the democracy on which the U.S. was founded.

When the celebration was drawing near to an end, a director of Global Trade Watch,
Ms. Lori Wallach came to our table and greeted us. The Global Trade Watch monitors trade negotiations including GATT, WTO and TPP.

She mentioned to us that she would not be able to meet the next day because she was leaving for Hawaii however, she told us please drop by the office because someone could show us around.

We thanked her kind offer and visited the office by the Capital. A young staff member showed us around the office, which used to be a FRB building.
There we were able to have a briefing on T.P.P.

During our short stay, we also visited Congress and the White House.
The House of representatives was not in session, so we were able to see the inside.
It was an invaluable experience.

I sincerely wish Public Citizen another productive 40 years.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of J.E.E..
Joining the celebration gave me a motivation to share the same dream with Mr. Nader, which aims to realize a sustainable society.
I am very delighted when Mr. Nader thanked the J.E.E. Eco-Calendar and the paper board.

* Public Citizen: www.citizen.org/40gala
*Acknowledgement is made to Ms.Keiko Nomura for interpreting and Public Citizen offering resources.

1. Public Citizen's 40th Anniversary Gala (from Public Citizen website)

2. Mr. Nader on the right

3. K. Hosoki at Gala