Japanese Public Protests Plan to Reopen Nuclear Reactors

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Japan has long had strong feelings on the subject of nuclear energy, only heightened by the tsunami and subsequent meltdown in Fukushima last spring. Before the disaster, approximately a third of its power supply had been supplied by nuclear reactors, with plans in place to increase that percentage to half.

Now, the majority of Japan’s nuclear reactors are offline (both due to regularly scheduled maintenance and emergency safety checks, presumably to determine whether or not other reactors would be able to withstand foundation-splitting earthquakes and massive walls of water). However, they may not remain inactive – current prime minister Yoshihiko Noda favors re-opening the idle reactors once they have passed the appropriate stress tests.

The prospect of returning to nuclear power sparked a show of public opposition on Monday in Tokyo, with at least 20,000 participants (according to the police) and perhaps as many as 60,000 (according to various media reports). Protestors carried signs stating “No Nukes – Let’s Stop All Radiation Now” and “This Child Doesn’t Need Radiation”(complete with a happy cartoon boy). A few of the more well-known faces among the protestors were quite vocal in their opposition – popular actor Taro Yamamoto stated that Japan’s other energy sources were already sufficient and that further use of nuclear power would result in a stockpile of nuclear waste, while Nobel literature laureate Kenzaburo Oe simply exhorted fellow protestors to “let leaders of major parties and the Japan Business Federation know that we intend to resist [nuclear power].”

Former prime minister Naoto Kan was also among those opposing re-instatement of nuclear power, although not present at the protests. He has gone so far as to state during recent interviews that he had feared for Japan’s future as a nation during the nuclear crisis and considered evacuating 30 million people from Tokyo itself.

Amidst continuing radioactive leaks from Fukushima Daiichi and an evacuation zone measuring 24 miles in diameter around the plant, the overwhelming majority of the population polled by Associated Press does not favor nuclear expansion, but a perplexing 35% favor keeping existing plants open. Those evacuated – approximately 100,000 in total – may not be able to return for years, perhaps decades, due to persistent high levels of dangerous radiation.

Source | Picture: The Guardian


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