Thousands of people have rallied in Tokyo to demand an end to atomic power two years after the nuclear disaster in north-eastern Japan.
Organisers said disaster victims and celebrities were among an estimated 15,000 people at a central Tokyo park on Saturday, two days ahead of the second anniversary of the disaster that killed 19,000 and sparked reactor meltdowns at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
Only two of Japan's 50 working nuclear reactors have been put back online since the disaster. This is partly because of waves of protests like Saturday's that mark the biggest public demonstrations in Japan since the 1960s movement against the Vietnam War.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his conservative Liberal Democratic Party has close ties with the nation's powerful business circle. He has repeatedly said he would allow reactor restarts if their safety could be ensured.
"I am going to fight to prevent any more reactors from being restarted"
- Kenzaburo Oe,
Nobel Prize-winning writer
Protesters marched through the capital later in the day and issued a statement that called on Abe to dismantle all nuclear plants.
"The new administration should not misunderstand that the victory can mean approval of policies to maintain nuclear power," the statement said in reference to the December elections of Abe and his party.
"We will request policies to swiftly begin procedures in decommissioning nuclear reactors and disapprove any plans to newly build nuclear plants."
Nobel Prize-winning writer Kenzaburo Oe received huge cheers from the protesters gathered in the park when he spoke of lessons learned from the atomic bombings of Japan at the end of World War II.
"I am going to fight against those who act as though Hiroshima, Nagasak and Fukush ima never happened,'' Oe said.
"I am going to fight to prevent any more reactors from being restarted.''
Another big Tokyo rally has been planned for Sunday. Commemorative services will be held on Monday throughout the nation to mark the disaster.
Less under the spotlight on Monday will be a class-action lawsuit being filed against the government and Tokyo Electric Power Company, the utility that operates Fukushima Dai-ichi, that demands all land, the natural environment and homes be restored to their state before March 11, 2011.
The lawsuit in Fukushima District Court has drawn people from all backgrounds together, including farmers, fishermen and housewives.
Izutaro Managi, one of the lawyers, said there were 800 plaintiffs so far and that number could grow.
"We can't believe the government is thinking about restarting the reactors after the horrendous damage and human pain the accident has caused,'' Managi said.
"It is tantamount to victimising the victims one more time.''
Two years after the disaster, 160,000 people have left their homes around the plant, entire sections of nearby communities are still ghost towns, and fears grow about cancer and other sicknesses the spewing radiation might bring.