News / Asia

Japanese Raising Voices Against Nuclear Reactors' Restart

TOKYO — For the third consecutive Friday evening, thousands of Japanese took to the streets of their capital to vent frustration with the government's move to restart idled nuclear power plants. Earlier this week, for the first time since the meltdown of three reactors at a coastal plant hit by the March 11th, 2011, earthquake and tsunami, Japan resumed nuclear power generation.

A steadily increasing drizzle did not dampen the spirits of protestors in central Tokyo.

Well-mannered demonstrators, most holding umbrellas for two hours chanted “Saikado Hantai” in opposition to the restart of nuclear reactors.

One reactor at the Oi nuclear plant, which supplies electricity to the Osaka metropolitan area, reached criticality earlier in the week.

  • Rain-soaked protesters, Tokyo, Japan, July 6, 2012. (S.L. Herman/VOA)
  • Crowds of protesters behind police tape, Toyko, Japan, July 6, 2012. (S.L. Herman/VOA)
  • A rain-soaked protester carries an anti-nuclear sign, Tokyo, Japan, July 6, 2012. (S.L. Herman/VOA)
  • A Japanese police office keeps order at the protest against restarting nuclear power plants, Tokyo, Japan, July, 6, 2012. (S.L. Herman/VOA)
  • Protesters carry anti-nuclear banners and umbrellas, Tokyo, Japan, July 6, 2012. (S.L. Herman/VOA)
  • A rain-soaked protester, Tokyo, Japan, July 6, 2012. (S.L. Herman/VOA)

That marked the resumption of nuclear power generation in Japan for the first time since the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 plant more than 15 months ago.

The government of resource-poor Japan and the utility companies contend nuclear reactors must come back online after thorough safety checks to avoid possible rolling blackouts this summer and excessive reliance on imports of liquid natural gas, coal and other expensive fuels for conventional power plants.

Many citizens and even some national lawmakers are expressing skepticism, saying concerns about profits and the economy are outweighing safety considerations.

Tokyo housewife Setsuko Naoe says she felt compelled to join the protests because officials have not learned any lessons from the Fukushima meltdowns.

Naoe laments the Japanese media, especially the national quasi-official NHK broadcaster, do not really report on the protests but she says that will not discourage those who share her stance.

Despite Friday's rally being one of the biggest Tokyo has seen in decades, NHK gave the protests only a 20-second mention 40 minutes into its main 9 p.m. television newscast.

For Mitsukazu Asakawa, the event reminds him of the protests he took part in against the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty more than 50 years ago.

Asakawa says since the 1960s, Japan has not seen such large street demonstrations, which also took place in the same location. But these rallies are different he points out - as they are not composed of radical, young people but are rather part of a diverse grassroots movement.

A parliamentary report issued Thursday and based on more than 900 hours of hearings and interviews with nearly 1,200 people concluded the Fukushima disaster was a preventable accident. It blames both regulators and the Tokyo Electric Power Company, saying there is too much collusion between government and industry.

Steve Herman

A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

You May Like

Disappointing Report on China's Economy Shakes Markets

In London and New York shares lost 3 percent, while Paris and Germany dropped around 2.4 percent More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs