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Operation Yashima (Japanese: ヤシマ作戦, Yashima Sakusen) was an online campaign launched by Japanese Internet users to conserve energy after a tsunami earthquake caused rolling-blackouts in the Tokyo metropolitan area in March of 2011. The effort was nicknamed “Operation Yashima” as a reference to the anime Neon Genesis Evangelion, in which an enemy is defeated by using a rifle that drains power grids in Japan.
The original “Operation Yashima” comes from the sixth episode of the Japanese anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion in which a nationwide blackout campaign is mobilized in order to gather electric power to defeat an enemy (shown below).
On March 11th, 2011, an undersea earthquake occurred off the coast of Japan which triggered massive tsunami waves that caused thousands of deaths, injuries and nuclear accidents. Three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant complex experienced meltdowns causing a shortage of energy. On the following day, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) warned that a large scale blackout might occur and urged residents to refrain from wasting energy. Japanese Internet users inspired by the Neon Genesis Evangelion episode began using the keyword “Operation Yashima” and the hashtag “#yashimasakusen110312” to encourage energy conservation on sites like Twitter, Facebook and the Japanese social network service Mixi.
On March 12th alone, “Operation Yashima” was tweeted 153,928 times according to the news website RBB Today. The same day, an unofficial website and wiki page for the operation was launched, which aimed to promote energy conservation (shown below).
An address to the people on Operation Yashima website
Also on March 12th, Japanese news media reported on the campaign, as well as the English news sites Anime News Network and Tokyohive. On March 13th, the official Evangelion blog published a post about the operation, which expressed approval for the campaign and its goals. The following day, the Operation Yashima website announced that the creators of the Evangelion series had permitted Internet users to use the titles “NERV”, “Operation Yashima” and the Neon Genesis Evangelion logo for the purpose of the campaign. The same day, the Japanese visual artist Shinji Higuchi, who helped draw the storyboard for Operation Yashima in the 2007 animated film Evangelion 1.0, uploaded illustrations for the operation to the Japanese social network Pixiv (shown below).
On March 14th, TEPCO started rolling-blackouts (Japanese: 輪番停電 or 計画停電) in the Tokyo metropolitan area. The same day, people began using the hashtag “#84MA” (pronounced Yashima) for the operation. On March 24th, a TEPCO power supply monitoring page was launched (shown below, left). Several other websites and apps were subsequently created, including a rolling blackouts schedule announcement page (shown below, middle) and an Operation Yashima iPhone app (shown below, right).
Several stores displayed Operation Yashima signs outside of their businesses in real life (shown below).
Otaku Goods Shop in Ikebukuro, Tokyo
Ramen Shop in Machida, Tokyo
Book Store in Kichijoji, Tokyo
The peak of this campaign was short about 3 weeks in actually since the rolling blackouts was cancelled after March 28 and then it ended in April 8th. Rolling blackouts planned in that summer season was also avoided by various efforts. Its not a small impact brought the 5th rank in the Japanese internet buzzword contest to “Operation Yashima” in December of that year.
Anime News Network – Evangelion Inspires Real Operation Yashima After Quake / 03-12-2011
tokyohive – Citizens of Japan turn to Twitter to conserve electricity through “Operation Yashima” / 03-13-2011