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Anti-nuclear protests in disaster-hit Japan
Thousands rally in capital Tokyo three months after earthquake and tsunami triggered crisis at nuclear plant.
Last Modified: 11 Jun 2011 08:05

Protesters in Japen are demonstrating against the use of nuclear power as the country marks three-months since a powerful earthquake and tsunami killed tens of thousands of people and triggered one of the world's worst nuclear disasters.

Several hundred people gathered in the Japanese capital, Tokyo, on Saturday, shouting anti-nuclear slogans and carrying banners reading "immediately stop all use of nuclear power and shut down the plants".

The magnitude-9 earthquake that hit off Japan's northeast coast on March 11 caused a massive tsunami that killed about 23,000 people.

The disasters knocked out power and cooling systems at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, about 225km northeast of Tokyo, setting off explosions, fires and large radiation leaks at the facility.

Al Jazeera's Marga Ortigas, reporting from Sendai in the north, said protesters are frustrated by the lack of information about the government's vision for nuclear power going forward.

Damage 'worse than previously thought'

Official reports released earlier in the week said the damage and leakage at the plant was worse than previously thought, with nuclear fuel in three reactors likely melting and collecting in the bottom of the cores and some seeping into the inner containment vessels.

The reports also said radiation that leaked into the air amounted to about one-sixth of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986.


Marga Ortigas reports from Sendai

Hundreds of plant workers are still scrambling to bring the crippled Fukushima reactors to a 'cold shutdown' by early next year and end the crisis.

The accident forced more than 80,000 residents to evacuate from their homes around the plant.

Some families have been moved into temporary housing, but supplies are short and sufficient housing is not expected to be completed for several more months.

The disasters have renewed a national debate on the use of nuclear power in Japan, which has few natural resources and is heavily reliant on atomic energy.

Some nuclear plants across the country have been shut down in the wake of the disaster, leading to fears Japan may not have enough electricity for the peak summer months, and several anti-nuclear protests have been held.

All along the coast, a massive clean-up effort continues as cranes and dump trucks haul away the wreckage from hundreds of thousands of buildings that were destroyed or damaged by the tsunami.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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