A citizens' group that set up three tents in front of a ministry office building that have served as a rallying point for anti-nuclear demonstrators said April 8 it will fight a government lawsuit demanding their removal.
The central government filed a lawsuit on March 29 against two members of the citizens' group, Taro Fuchigami and Taichi Masakiyo. Fuchigami, a 70-year-old leader of the group, said they want to keep the tents in place and will challenge the government’s legal action in court.
“I’d like to appeal to the public for the importance of the tents," Fuchigami said. "They represent the public’s voice for a nuclear power free Japan.”
The tents were set up on the grounds of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry's office building in Tokyo's Kasumigaseki district on Sept. 11, 2011, six months after the Great East Japan Earthquake set off the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
Government officials said the tents need to be removed because they disrupt the day-to-day activities of the ministry.
“We requested that the activists remove the tents, but nothing has been resolved," a top industry ministry official said. "It will be best to ask the court to judge the case objectively.”
Although crowds visiting the tents have become smaller since they were first pitched, the anti-nuke protest group still receives encouragement and support from visitors from all across Japan.
“This is the only place where people without a hometown can have our voices heard," said Yukiko Kameya, who was forced to evacuate to Tokyo from Fukushima Prefecture, and who visits the tents once a week. "I never want to see the tents disappear,” said the 68-year-old evacuee.
Katsutaka Idogawa, who served as mayor of Futaba, Fukushima Prefecture, until February, visited the tents on April 6. During his term as mayor, Idogawa pursued the government’s responsibility for the nuclear disaster.
“State-owned land belongs to the public,” the 66-year-old former mayor said. “We want the government to listen to the voices of the public.”
According to a government official, the tents were originally constructed by a group that was founded in 2007 by members of Zengakuren, a former student association that participated in the 1960 student movement against the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty. The government assumes that the group still plays a central role in activities involving the tents.
Since Sept. 11, 2011, the tents have occupied government-owned land without authorization, and the citizens' group has been continuing its activities against restarting the nation's idle nuclear power reactors, according to the court claim.
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