Protesters rail against Abe, reactors

Nearly 300 events held nationwide to voice anger at government


Staff Writer

More than 10,000 demonstrators took to the streets of Tokyo Sunday, calling for an immediate phaseout of atomic energy and railing against Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s stubbornly pronuclear stance.

Almost 300 protests and gatherings were staged nationwide over the weekend, a symbolic gesture as the country prepared to commemorate the second anniversary of the March 11, 2011, quake and tsunami that triggered one of the world’s worst nuclear crises.

Protesters warned that the crisis at the flooded Fukushima No. 1 power plant is far from over, with almost 150,000 Fukushima Prefecture residents still displaced and no time frame in sight for their return, even two years after the Tokyo Electric Power Co. facility was staggered by three core meltdowns.

“The first thing the government should be doing is focusing more on decommissioning (the reactors), rather than working on other issues,” said Akiyoshi Ando, 65, who has organized several antinuclear demonstrations in Yokohama. “The government is turning away from the people affected.”

Many also vented their anger about Tepco’s reported plan to dump contaminated water from the No. 1 power station into the Pacific after storage runs out.

But the main target of their ire was the pronuclear stance of Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party government.

Since taking office in late December, the prime minister has said he wants to restart idled reactors up and down the archipelago and resume construction of new reactors, while also ramping up exports of Japan’s nuclear technologies to other countries.

However, no one has even figured out a way yet to deal with the amount of spent nuclear fuel relentlessly accumulating at the various facilities.

In his summit talks with U.S. President Barack Obama last month, Abe said his administration will not adhere to the ousted Democratic Party of Japan-led government’s target of achieving the complete abolition of nuclear power by the 2030s. He also pledged to bolster collaboration between Tokyo and Washington on nuclear power technology.

“I don’t understand why Abe cannot realize that Japan should not have nuclear power stations when our country suffers so many major earthquakes,” said Fumi Takanami, 45, who took part in the Tokyo protests. “Abe has vested interests with the business community, and probably does not care about the rest of Japan.”

After gathering in Hibiya Park, the demonstrators walked to the Diet building in Chiyoda Ward and submitted petitions urging the immediate elimination of nuclear power to several lawmakers, including former DPJ Prime Minister Naoto Kan, who was in office when the Great East Japan Earthquake struck.

  • Nuclear technology is worth the risk for a cleaner, more stable future, and Abe knows that. Given that the DPJ won in a landslide despite its open stance on Nuclear energy, I would say many Japanese do too.

    • seetell

      Tens of thousands from around Fukushima would probably not agree with your risk assessment. Of course, that risk is the reason nuclear plants are built so far away from cities and why the locals are compensated for having them in their back yards.

      • Björn Mohns

        Yes, almost everybody has seen the “risk”. Nuclear research is a fashion, you only can have a good reputation, if you have “biotechnology”, “nucelar physics” on your business card. And what is the result? But I won’t discuss about that anymore, the disaster with the Tsunami was the bigger one.

        There will be more and more environmental disasters in the future, everybody should work more to do something against that like in the Netherlands, there they build the longest construct in the world against flooding.
        Less nuclear research, much more environmental research!

    • Manfred Baur

      This is the
      shortsighted view that most obviously also the government takes.

      Nuclear technology is cheap? Only if one does not consider the cost of removing and storing the nuclear waste. The power companies make their profit from running the reactors and the public (the taxpayer) has to pay for the disposal.

      Nuclear technology is safe? Have people already forgotten what happened in Fukushima?

      There is no really safe nuclear technology.

      technology is worth the risk? One could laugh about such a statement if it would not be so serious. If I think only about myself, well I could say its fine with me. I am above the age of reproduction but if I think about my children, my children’s children and their children I would say the risk of sticking with that technology is far too high to take the haphazard road the current government is heading.

    • Anyone who thinks nuclear energy is clean and stable is either deluded or else is in the business of attempting to delude others. The willful ignorance of the above comment is nothing but offensive to the many affected by radiation.

    • Caleb

      Worth the risk!?! WHAT!! I suppose you think playing roulette is worth the risk too, as a wise long-term investment strategy?

  • seetell

    The public should realize that Abe, like Noda (and, really, all politicians), is not listening to them. Instead, he is listening to the nuclear industry, the US, Yonekura (Keidanren), the unaccountable bureaucrats and others who have vested interests in nuclear power. Until the system of moneyed political favoritism is destroyed, the public has no voice in public policy. Single issue protests are little more than a single flea on a dog.

    • Dear Seetell,
      Yes, yes, yes! Your words sound an alarm that the world should listen to. The target in America, as the Occupy people discovered, is Wall Street (moneyed political favoritism). This is the target that drives all wars, illegal drugs, illegal arms trade, nuclear power/weapons and anything where the profit motive stands above human rights and the dignity of human kind. The key to eliminating this death grip lies with the grass roots power of the people to persevere on a daily basis. Our one common denominator is our humanity. Gandhi found it. Martin Luther King found it. Prime Minister Kijuro Shidehara (Article 9) and Douglas MacArthur found it. Hail the Japanese protesters!

  • Ron NJ

    I just don’t get why half the signs are in English. It’s not like Obama gets to make the decisions, despite what people may think.

  • Michael Radcliffe

    It is difficult to see this protest as anything other than a demonstration in support of human stupidity. That people could protest cheap, safe and CO2 emission-free energy because of an accident that has hurt or killed nobody, well, it just leaves me baffled. You may as well demonstrate in support of coal-linked cancer, climate destruction and the massive profits of oil and gas companies. Seriously, what are these people thinking?

  • Guest

    Sorry, but Abe/Aso are just jerks,,,and they don’t even have to be, but “Abe has vested interests with the business community, and probably does not care about the rest of Japan.”

  • Guest

    No country can move ahead when they have “Leaders” like this

  • behindthegrids

    Good to hear that action is taking place: