Massive anti-nuclear rally staged in Tokyo

AFP , Monday 16 Jul 2012

An estimated 170,000 Japanese take to the streets following government's decision to restarts to reactors West of the island nation

Anti-nuclear energy protesters march through downtown Tokyo Monday, (Photo: AP).

Tens of thousands of people rallied in Tokyo on Monday demanding an end to nuclear power, the latest in a series of anti-atomic gatherings following the tsunami-sparked disaster at Fukushima.

Demonstrators marched through streets near Yoyogi park under scorching sunshine on a national holiday, chanting in chorus: "Don't resume nuclear power operation. Prime Minister (Yoshihiko) Noda should quit."

Organisers said the number of participants was estimated to reach 170,000, one of the biggest anti-nuclear rallies since last year's quake-tsunami sparked the world's worst atomic disaster in a generation.

Participants included Nobel-winning author Kenzaburo Oe and Japanese musician and composer Ryuichi Sakamoto.

"We are so angry because no progress has been made in terms of compensation and decontamination," said Noboru Shikatani, a 71-year-old man evacuating from Fukushima to Tokyo following the disaster.

"We can't accept any resumption of nuclear power operation as the Fukushima case has not been resolved at all," Shikatani said. "We want to bring our voice to many people by joining this kind of demonstration."

The latest rally came after a nuclear reactor in western Japan began full operations last week, the first restart since the country shut down its atomic stations in the wake of last year's crisis.

The return to full operations ended a nearly two-month hiatus in the aftermath of the atomic crisis, but came amid strong anti-nuclear sentiment in Japan which has seen protesters come out in their tens of thousands.

A damning parliamentary report said the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant was a man-made disaster, marked by a lack of oversight and collusion between plant operator Tokyo Electric Power, the government and regulators.

Nuclear restarts were put on hold as the government mulled its options following the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami that crippled reactor cooling systems at Fukushima.

But in mid-June, Noda gave the green light to restart two reactors at the Oi plant in Fukui prefecture, western Japan, amid concerns about looming power shortages this summer.

"We want to continue to stage demonstration as anti-nuclear sentiment is growing steadily among people," Yasunari Fujimoto, an organiser of the rally, said.

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