Anti-nuclear activists’ METI camp razed in darkness after years battling over Fukushima

Kyodo

Tokyo District Court officials on Sunday removed activists’ tents from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, five years after they initiated protests against the government’s handling of the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

“The government is pushing through the reactivation of nuclear power plants without taking responsibility (for the Fukushima crisis),” said a 53-year-old company employee who had been staying in one of the tents on Saturdays since the first one was erected in September 2011.

“We will carry on with our protests,” he said.

The removal of the three tents — which took place before daybreak Sunday — came after the government asked the court to enforce its order to dismantle the site.

Handed down in February 2015, the order was upheld by the Tokyo High Court last October. It became final after the Supreme Court in July rejected an appeal filed by the two anti-nuclear campaigners.

The three tents were set up in September 2011 on a roughly 50-sq.-meter area at METI, which oversees the nuclear power industry and was considered to be in bed with it and Japan’s former atomic regulator for decades.

The campaigners had used the site as a base for conducting anti-nuclear protests at METI after the Fukushima disaster began unfolding in March 2011, streaming live video to the internet, staging hunger strike and forming human chains.

The court officials apparently decided to raze the tents in the early hours, when there would be few passers-by near METI to see it happen.

About 10 people, including some staying inside the tents, protested as officials fenced off the encampment and blocked the road around the premises before dismantling the tents.

In its ruling last year, the Tokyo District Court also ordered the activists to pay roughly ¥21,000 ($209) per day in fees for using the land for as long as they stayed at the site. That amount now stands at more than ¥30 million.

The district court said that while it “understands the campaigners’ compelling motive to join anti-nuclear activities after the atomic accident,” they “do not have special rights to use the land” belonging to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry in the capital.