Tens of thousands of people packed Tokyo’s Yoyogi Park yesterday for Japan’s biggest anti-nuclear rally since the Fukushima disaster last year in growing protests against government moves to restart atomic reactors. Speakers at the demonstration, which broke up at 1:30 p.m. into three separate marches through Japan’s capital, included Nobel laureate Kenzaburo Oe and musician Ryuichi Sakamoto, who wrote the score for the movie “Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence.”
Protesters take part in an anti-nuclear rally in Tokyo. Photographer: Haruyoshi Yamaguchi/Bloomberg
Protesters carry banners as they take part in an anti-nuclear rally in Tokyo. Photographer: Haruyoshi Yamaguchi/Bloomberg
Kenzaburo Oe, Nobel Laureate. Photographer: Haruyoshi Yamaguchi/Bloomberg
Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda angered nuclear opponents last month when he approved the restart of two reactors at Kansai Electric Power Co. (9503)’s Ohi plant, which were shutdown along with other units for safety checks after the meltdown and radiation release from the wrecked Fukushima station. A Mainichi newspaper poll on June 4 showed as many as 71 percent of Japanese opposed the restart.
“The government allowed the Ohi nuclear reactors to restart and it’s going to allow more reactors to restart. We feel we are insulted by the government,” said Oe in his speech to the rally. “We have to stop the government’s plan,” said Oe, 77, who received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1994.
“No to Nuclear Restarts” has become the rallying cry of protesters every Friday evening since the end of March in demonstrations outside Noda’s official residence. Police estimate around 10,000 people protested there on July 6, blocked from entering by a fleet of pale-blue police buses and dozens of uniformed and plainclothes officers.
Yoyogi organizers, http://sayonara-nukes.org, said as many as 170,000 people attended the rally yesterday. National television broadcaster NHK said the figure was 75,000, citing the police. In two phone calls by Bloomberg News, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police said they were not providing any estimate for the Yoyogi rally.
“There’s something wrong in this country when even if thousands of people protest in front of the prime minister’s residence they still reactivate the plants,” said Koichiro Mori, a literature student at Kyoto University. “We’ve developed an economy that is capable of sacrificing its own people; our goal is to change such a society,” said Mori, who was at Yoyogi with students representing about 15 universities from Okinawa in the south to Tohoku in the north. Read More: Tokyo Anti-Nuclear Rally Attracts Thousands as Protests Grow - Bloomberg
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