News / Asia

Anti-Nuclear Campaign in Japan Moves Forward, Acknowledges Struggles

Author Keiko Ochiai, journalist Satoshi Kamata and Nobel literature laureate Kenzaburo Oe prepare to speak to reporters in Tokyo, February 8, 2012.
Author Keiko Ochiai, journalist Satoshi Kamata and Nobel literature laureate Kenzaburo Oe prepare to speak to reporters in Tokyo, February 8, 2012.

A citizen's group in Japan says it has collected five million signatures - halfway to its goal - on a petition calling on the government to permanently shut down all nuclear power plants in the country. But amid traditional apathy among Japanese toward political movements and longstanding strong ties between power companies and lawmakers in a resource-poor country, anti-nuclear campaigners are acknowledging an uphill struggle.

The meltdowns of three reactors at a Japanese nuclear power plant 10 months ago have helped energize millions of people here to sign a petition calling for an end to reliance on atomic energy in the country.

Petitioners in Tokyo and Osaka separately say they have collected enough signatures for referenda in Japan's two largest cities. But it is unclear if those campaigns will clear all the legal hurdles to get on the ballot.

The Fukushima disaster also gave rise to some of Japan's largest public protests in decades, which have been peaceful. But one of the most prominent domestic anti-nuclear figures in the country, Nobel laureate for literature Kenzaburo Oe, says citizens' initiatives have not gone far enough.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Oe called for a national referendum on nuclear power. He contends Japanese seismologists have understated the risk of earthquakes at reactor locations and that some nuclear industry scientists in the country have reversed opinion and now express doubts about the safety of Japan's aging reactors.

The Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant suffered a catastrophic failure on March 11, following a magnitude 9.0 earthquake that generated a killer tsunami.

Oe also called for children in Fukushima to undergo detailed screening for internal radiation exposure, comparing their plight to the victims of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War Two. 

Sitting alongside Oe, another prominent author, Keiko Ochiai, says she is not terribly optimistic that the majority of her fellow citizens will see things their way.

The author says she feels the crest of the wave of the anti-nuclear sentiment after last year's disaster has already passed.

Proponents of nuclear power say the economic benefits outweigh the relatively small environmental and health risks, noting that - aside from nuclear - Japan is almost entirely dependent on imported fossil fuels for its economy. They contend alternative forms of energy are not yet efficient nor affordable for Japan.

All but three of Japan's 54 nuclear reactors are offline, mainly because of safety inspections or routine maintenance. Media reports say the government hopes to bring two of them back into operation as soon as April, amid concerns a prolonged hiatus could lead to blackouts and factory shutdowns.


You May Like

China’s Influence Grows With New Infrastructure Bank

Multibillion-dollar China-backed and BRICS-supported Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank seen as possible challenger to such lenders as IMF, World Bank More

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

Rabbi Michel Serfaty makes the rounds in his friendship bus to encourage dialogue and break down barriers between the two groups More

Post-deal Iran Leaders Need 'Economic Momentum' to Solidify Power Base

Economists say deal could inject more than $100 billion into coffers - not enough to entirely rescue ailing economy - but maybe adequate to create 'economic momentum' More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impacti
X
Michael Bowman
June 28, 2015 10:05 PM
Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Chemical-Sniffing Technology Fights Australia's Graffiti Vandals

Cities and towns all over the world spend huge amounts of resources battling graffiti writers who deface buildings, public transport vehicles and even monuments. Authorities in Sydney, Australia, hope a new chemical-sniffing technology finally will stop vandals from scribbling on walls in the passenger areas of commuter trains. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Cambodia Struggling to Curb Child Labor

Earlier this year a United Nations report found 10 percent of Cambodian children aged 7-14 are working – one of the highest rates in the region – and said one in four children in that age bracket are forced to quit school to help their families. Although the child labor rate has dropped over the past decade, Cambodia has a lot more to do – including keeping more children in school. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.

VOA Blogs