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Over 5,000 rally in Tokyo against nuclear reactor restarts

AFP-JIJI

More than 5,000 anti-nuclear campaigners rallied in Tokyo on Saturday as the government and utilities move toward restarting reactors in Kyushu.

The protesters gathered at Hibiya Park in central Tokyo to urge the government not to approve the reactivation of any nuclear plant. Regulators are currently reviewing whether to allow Kyushu Electric Power Co. to fire up two reactors at its Sendai atomic power plant.

“Japan is prone to earthquakes. We have to seriously think about whether nuclear power is a good idea for Japan,” said Masatoshi Harada, 60, who joined fellow protesters at the park and marched with them later toward the Ginza shopping district.

“This is an opportunity for Japan to abandon nuclear power,” he said.

Last week, tens of thousands held a rally at the same site to voice fears about any reliance on nuclear power.

Saturday’s event came days after the nation marked the third anniversary of the 9.0-magnitude quake and tsunami that swamped Tohoku’s coastline on March 11, 2011, setting in motion the Fukushima nuclear crisis. The twin natural disasters killed 15,884 people and left another 2,633 still unaccounted for.

They also knocked out cooling systems at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, where three reactors suffered core meltdowns and a fourth was badly damaged by hydrogen explosions. The wrecked reactors spewed massive amounts of radioactive fallout over the region.

No one is officially listed as having died as a direct result of the nuclear meltdowns, but at least 1,656 people have died as a result of complications linked to stress and other factors after having to evacuate their homes.

Supporters of nuclear power, including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, say the country needs atomic energy to revive the world’s third-largest economy. But protesters argue that Japan can live without nuclear power, as it has done for a prolonged period.

All of the nation’s 50 commercial reactors have remained offline due to tense public opposition to restarting them. “Nuclear plants have been closed, so you cannot say we cannot live without nuclear energy,” one of the protesters, Junichi Okano, said Saturday.

  • aieldndn

    The focus here is on safety, but here in US nuclear power could not be cost competitive without US taxpayer responsibility for the transportation, security, and storage of spent nuclear fuel; not only for our own but also all that we sell; and in perpetuity.

    Without the taxpayer footing this very significant and incalculable cost of doing business the industry could not survive.

    Even when the industry was contributing to the Nuclear Waste Fund at the 1/10 of one cent per KWH rate there was little incentive to evolve the technology. Now that the industry pays nothing and the taxpayer foots the entire bill, there is no incentive at all.

    By design the taxpayer obligation is unalterable by regulatory amendment because our commitments are contractual.

    The most immediate step that needs to be taken is to stop producing new fuel until the challenges of dealing with the spent nuclear fuel and high level waste infrastructure can be affordably met.

    I’ve heard all the promises of “electricity to cheap to meter,” “fail safe design,” and “profitable reprocessing.” None of which exists anywhere in the world.

    As our agent the DOE did not bargain in good faith on behalf of the taxpayer, the contracts should be made null and void, what money the industry did pay into the fund returned with interest, and allow the industry to compete based on the true cost of doing business.
    Don’t get stuck like we did.