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Since 1957, when the nation’s first research reactor achieved criticality in Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture, the village has promoted itself as a “pioneer” of Japan’s nuclear development. But the mood has shifted, and the mayor now a chief advocate of abandoning atomic power.

Amid the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant — the world’s worst in a quarter-century — Mayor Tatsuya Murakami said: “We were consumed with the myth of nuclear security, that an accident would never happen in this country. . . . Japan is not qualified to have nuclear power plants.”

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