YOKOHAMA--Speeches, singing and a march through Yokohama's port side area: Those are among events scheduled for just the opening day of the Global Conference for a Nuclear Power Free World that got under way Jan. 14 and closes the day after.
More than 8,000 people have applied to attend the event, which includes more than 100 forums and performances, an artists' lounge and film screenings.
The conference will offer question and answer sessions with 39 international panelists from Taiwan, South Korea, China, Germany and elsewhere. Among the speakers are Mycle Schneider, a former adviser to Germany's Environmental Ministry, and a chemical engineer and consultant on nuclear waste management. Both hail from Germany, which last year declared it would withdraw from nuclear energy.
Japan needs to hear voices from the outside world, says Tatsuya Yoshioka, director of Peace Boat. The organization, along with Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, Green Action and other NGOs, is one of the event's organizers.
“What will the world think if we continue using nuclear power after Hiroshima, Nagasaki and now Fukushima?” says the Peace Boat director. "All of us are facing a crisis brought by nuclear power plants and now is the moment to gather here in Japan, very close to Fukushima, and start discussing what we can do to get rid of our dependency and promote other forms of energy."
The event, say organizers, comes at an opportune time: only five of Japan's 54 nuclear reactors are operational at the moment, with all scheduled to go off the grid temporarily in May.
The international speakers visited Fukushima City on Jan. 13 to talk to civic groups in the area.
A goal for the conference is to produce a declaration demanding a world free of nuclear power, signed by 311 participants, including Peace Boat and co-organizers.
Regular participants, meanwhile, among them Keiko Shiozawa, are looking to connect to each other through the event.
"It's a shame that it has taken the Fukushima disaster to bring people around to alternative forms of power," says Shiozawa, who works for a citizens group promoting the wider use of photovoltaic cells for homes. "I don't know what a conference itself can achieve, but at the very least we'll be able to meet people who'll listen to our message."
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