About 90,000 people protested outside the prime minister’s office on July 20, demanding an end to the government’s drive to reopen nuclear power plants, organizers said.
The weekly protest against nuclear power, held every Friday night in the central government district, has now become a regular part of life in the Japanese capital. The demonstration on July 20 was the 16th in a row and the number of participants has grown exponentially from the 300 who turned up to the first protest in March.
Shortly after 6 p.m., in light rain, the pavements leading to the prime minister’s office, the Diet building and the central government offices in the Kasumigaseki district were jammed with protesters.
Homemaker Shinobu Hasegawa, 34, from Hanno, Saitama Prefecture, said she was taking part for the first time. She was with her husband and two daughters, aged 3 and 6 months.
“My children are small. It is difficult to go to Fukushima Prefecture and help people there, but I want to support them by demonstrating,” Hasegawa, whose parents’ house is located in Furudono, Fukushima Prefecture, said.
She said that all nuclear power plants should be closed to stop the risk of wider nuclear contamination similar to that in Fukushima Prefecture.
Similar rallies are spreading to other parts of the country. A demonstration was held in front of the Hokkaido government offices in Sapporo’s Chuo Ward on July 20. According to the organizers, 900 people took part, 100 more than the previous week.
Naohiro Kodama, 34, a sanitary worker working for the Sapporo city government, said he felt he had to make his voice heard.
“Even if I complain in front of a television (at home) or write a message on the Internet, the acts are eventually the same as those of people who are tolerating (the restart of nuclear reactor operations),” he said.
In Nagoya’s Higashi Ward, organizers said about 400 people rallied in front of the Tokai branch of Kansai Electric Power Co., which restarted two reactors at the Oi nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture this month.
About 1,800 people gathered in front of KEPCO’s head office in Osaka’s Kita Ward, according to the organizers. They shouted “We are opposed to the restart (of nuclear reactors)” for about 90 minutes.
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