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article image170,000 in streets: Japan's largest protest against nuclear power

By Anne Sewell     Jul 16, 2012 in Environment
Tokyo - In sweltering summer heat, around 170,000 protesters hit the streets of Tokyo, protesting against the nuclear restart, as another reactor prepares to go online.
Digital Journal reported in June on the huge protest in Tokyo against the restart of one of the nuclear plants. On July 2, one reactor at the Oi nuclear plant was restarted, despite the mass protests.
A second reactor at the Oi nuclear plant is now set to go online later this week.
With this in mind, between 170,000 and 200,000 protesters thronged the streets of Tokyo today in protest, making this one of the largest protests in Japan's history.
In sweltering heat, the rally participants overflowed from Yoyogi Park, waving banners saying “Goodbye Nuclear Plants” and “The Nuclear Era is Over” while chanting “No Nuclear.”
One of the protesters was heard to say, “If we don’t do anything and stay silent, it means we agree in restarting the nuclear plants.”
Over 7.4 million signatures have been collected on a petition demanding a phase-out for nuclear power.
While all of Japan's 50 nuclear reactors were taken offline after the disaster at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant caused by an earthquake and following tsunami in 2011, officials in Japan are saying that nuclear energy is required to supply electricity to the country. But with a second reactor about to go online again, many in Japan say they want to opt for a nuclear-free future.
In June, Prime MInister Yoshihiko Noda decided to start the reactors, citing lack of energy concerns and biting oil costs.
Noda told Japanese television today, as Tokyo sweltered in 36.6-degree Celsius heat, "Today temperatures reached record high levels. We must ask ourselves whether we can really make do without nuclear power."
Protesters, however, insist that it is not worth risking people's lives for electricity and they state that Japan did pretty well without nuclear energy this year.
There was further outrage over a parliamentary investigation that called the Fukushima disaster "man-made", maintaining it was the result of “collusion between the government, the regulators and TEPCO, and the lack of governance by said parties.”
The report still attributed it to Japan's culture of “reflexive obedience” and failed to hold any individuals responsible.
Protesters are demanding that the right people be punished for their mistakes, saying, “Things can never change if we blame culture. We need to get to the bottom of this.”
More about Japan, Tokyo, Nuclear power, Protest, nuclear restart
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