Tens of thousands of protesters assembled in Tokyo, July 16, in Japan’s biggest anti-nuclear rally since the Fukushima disaster in March last year.
Sporting colorful banners, a record number of up to 170,000 protesters gathered at Yoyogi Park, according to Sayonara Nukes, one of the rally organizers.
The group’s website explains that Japan’s environment has been contaminated and people have been forced out of their homes because of nuclear radiation.
“More than 80% of the people in Japan do not want nuclear power plants,” the website states. “Enough electricity is already available. We can make efforts to save electricity. There is no sense in insisting on an energy that sacrifices people’s life and health. Energy should exist for the people. We have had enough of nuclear power plants, which only serve the rights and interests of a certain group.”
The protesters demanded that the government terminate existing nuclear power plants and construction plans for new ones, shift toward a natural energy plan, and abolish plants that use plutonium, the most dangerous radioactive material.
They held up signs in English or Japanese such as, “Protect your most precious people,” “No nukes,” “No more Hiroshima. No more Nagasaki. No more Fukushima. More? Suffering Kamikaze Government.”
In a statement on famed composer and musician Ryuichi Sakamoto’s website, he said “Now that the worst accident in history has awoken us from our deluded slumber to ‘use nuclear energy peacefully,’ the next step is to prove to the world that people and nukes cannot coexist, whether it be for weapons or electricity.”
Sakamoto also gave a speech at the Monday rally, as did Kenzaburo Oe, a Nobel Prize laureate in literature, who sharply criticized Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda for running both “unnecessary power plants and a re-election.”
Alarms went off Sunday evening and Monday at the Oi nuclear power plant, further fueling public anti-nuclear sentiment.
Last week, unit 3 of the Oi plant resumed full operation, marking the end of Japan’s short break from nuclear energy. A second reactor is planned to follow soon.
The first alarm indicated that a rise in pressure in reactor 4’s cooling tank, but according to a statement from the Kansai Electric Power Co. (KEPCO), there were no safety issues. The company performed a check and determined that there weren’t any problems. The second alarm called attention to a malfunctioning auxiliary motor in the reactor’s emergency generator, according to KEPCO.
A recently published report called the Fukushima accident a man-made disaster, citing collusion with nuclear companies, a culture of blindly following authority, and a desire to rely solely on nuclear power.
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