Opponents of nuclear power started a hunger strike Thursday to press the government to drop a lawsuit demanding they remove their tents from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

They sat down in chairs in front of the tents, wearing headbands and happi coats.

"We are not removing the tents," they announced in a statement. "We are against the restart of nuclear power reactors."

"People who are fighting for the end of nuclear power generation meet here and get information here," said Setsuko Kuroda, 62, of Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture, who frequently visits the tents.

"I once got reunited here with a person who was evacuated (due to the Fukushima No. 1 disaster) and celebrated the reunion in tears. Forced removal is just unacceptable," she said.

The campaigners plan to continue the strike at their own pace until noon next Wednesday, the day before the government's lawsuit against them opens at the Tokyo District Court.

They erected their first tent there in September 2011. METI claims that although it has repeatedly asked the activists to take the tents down and leave the area, the site continues to be unlawfully occupied.