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Japan protesters say no to nuclear power

Demonstration comes as nation considers restarting reactors, three years after earthquake triggered a nuclear disaster.

Last updated: 15 Mar 2014 18:07
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All of the nation's roughly 50 commercial nuclear reactors have gradually been shut down since 2011 [AFP]

Thousands of people in Tokyo have rallied against nuclear power as the government and utilities prepare to restart reactors in southern Japan.

More than 5,000 protesters gathered at Hibiya Park in Tokyo on Saturday to pressure the government not to restart the country's nuclear power stations.

"Japan is prone to earthquakes. We have to seriously think about whether nuclear power is a good idea for Japan," said protester Masatoshi Harada. "This is an opportunity for Japan to drop nuclear power."

Regulators are currently reviewing whether to let Kyushu Electric Power restart two reactors at its Sendai power plant.

Saturday's demonstration came days after the country marked the third anniversary of a 9.0-magnitude earthquake that struck northern Japan in March 2011.

The earthquake prompted a deadly tsunami along the northern Pacific coastline and huge waves swamped cooling systems at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, which went through reactor meltdowns and explosions that spewed radioactive materials into the vast, rural region.

The earthquake and tsunami killed 15,884 people and left 2,633 people still unaccounted for, but no one died as a direct result of the atomic accident.

Japan marks Fukushima disaster anniversary

Supporters of nuclear power, including the prime minister, Shinzo Abe, said Japan needs atomic energy to ensure the economic health of the world's third largest economy.

But protesters argued that the country can live without nuclear power as it has done so for many months.

"Nuclear plants have been closed, so you cannot say we cannot live without nuclear energy," anti-nuclear campaigner Junichi Okano said.

All of the nation's roughly 50 commercial nuclear reactors have gradually been shut down since 2011 and remain offline due to tense public opposition to restarting them.

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Source:
AFP
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