No Nukes! Meiji Park Antinuclear Rally 2013. Photo credit Stack Jones.
Thousands of protesters gathered at Meiji Park in Tokyo last Sunday to mark the second anniversary of the world’s worst nuclear disaster since a systems test failed at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in the former USSR.
A sea of colorful banners swayed in the light wind, displaying a variety of slogans including, No Nukes For All Of The Earth. And Unevolved Apes Want Nukes. There was a diverse crowd of supporters including a strong showing of elderly citizens, and associations that arrived from all over the country to show their support for the cause.
Event organizers who are bitterly opposed to the continued use of nuclear power ripped into Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party condemning it for having a cozy relationship with Obama’s pronuclear administration. Speakers also voiced their objection to the continued construction of nuclear reactors being built on known fault zones. Singled out were reactors currently in the construction phase at Tsuruga, Ohma and Shimane.
Anti-Nuclear rally. Taking it to the streets. Photo credit Stack Jones.
Presenters refused to accept that their government, and those that benefit from the nuclear industries have the nation’s best interest at heart. They called for an immediate abolition of nuclear power, not merely phasing it out by the 2030s.
At 4:00 the participants took to the streets. Police were clearly overwhelmed by the sheer volume of demonstrators and attempted to control the march by breaking it up into smaller groups of several hundred. At one point a fight broke out between police and participants who opposed to the police strategy. There was one arrest, but nobody was injured.
One group of demonstrators marched straight to the Diet building in Chiyoda Ward and presented petitions that demanded the immediate elimination of nuclear power. Former Prime Minister Naoto Kan was one of the receivers of those appeals.
Police were overwhelmed by the massive scale of marchers. A fight resulted in one arrest. Photo credit Stack Jones.
Another large group marched to Harajuku carrying signs in support of the 150,000 Fukushima residents that remain refugees to this day. Miyuki Suzuki, whose grandmother lives in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, and who had to be evacuate from her home, was concerned about the future of Japan’s children. “Children in Fukushima have already being discovered to have cancer directly related to the disaster. What does the future hold for them?”
Others protesters were infuriated over the lack of government action, slow clean up of radiation infested communities, adequate disposal, and the inability to be heard.
Many voiced their contempt for TEPCO’s continued dumping of contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean, while others showed concern for all of the spent nuclear fuel that continues to accumulate with no plan as to how to store it.
The sign read, No Nukes! Meiji Park Rally. Photo credit Stack Jones.
One thing that both sides can agree on regarding nuclear energy is that it’s a harsh reality. It’s not a cheap energy source as it has been marketed, and it’s clearly not safe especially when profits take precedence over safe operation of the facilities that produce the energy. In that, everybody wants a computer, an iPhone, a warm shower, air conditioning in the summer, heating in the winter, a hot meal, and a cold drink whenever they desire.
As of January 2013 there are four hundred and thirty seven nuclear reactors in thirty-one countries. There are one hundred and four nuclear reactors operating commercial in the U.S. alone. Another thirty four are managed by universities. These numbers do not reflect reactors operated by the U.S. military.
The U.S. Department of Energy projects that U.S. electricity demands will grow by 28% by 2040. This means the U.S. will need hundreds of new power plants to provide electricity for that growing demand. Maintaining nuclear energy’s current 20% share would require building one reactor every year until 2040. Source: Nuclear Energy Institute.
Over sixty reactors are currently being constructed in thirteen countries including the U.S., China, India, Pakistan, Taiwan, South Korea and Russia. It doesn’t seem that there will be a nuclear free world any time soon.
Thousands march to the beat of the same drum. No nukes! Photo credit Stack Jones.
This article originally ran in the March, 2013 edition of the Tokyo Weekender magazine. http://tokyoweekender.com/2013/03/anti-nuke-rally-in-tokyo.