24 Septembre 2016
September 23, 2016
By RYUJI KUDO/ Staff Writer
Anti-nuclear demonstrators hoist placards against nuclear power at a mass rally in Tokyo’s Yoyogi Park on Sept. 22. (Ryuji Kudo)
Thousands of anti-nuclear demonstrators gathered in Tokyo on Sept. 22 to demand the government go beyond decommissioning the troubled Monju prototype fast-breeder reactor and abandon its plans to restart other nuclear power plants.
“We definitely don’t need the money-sucking and dangerous Monju,” said Hisae Sawachi, a writer and a member of the organizing committee of the demonstration, which took place under the banner “No nukes, No war.” “Why don’t government officials have the courage to close down all the other nuclear power plants?”
The rally, at Yoyogi Park in Tokyo's Shibuya Ward, followed the government's decision this week to unplug the reactor, which has hardly generated any electricity despite the more than 1 trillion yen ($9.9 billion) spent on it over two decades.
Masaichi Miyashita, who heads the secretariat of an anti-nuclear group in Fukui Prefecture, told the rally that officials in Tsuruga in the prefecture, where the reactor is situated, are opposed to the government decision to decommission the reactor and want to keep it.
“I wonder how local leaders calling for the continuation of the Monju program consider the health and lives of residents,” he said. “I would like you, demonstrators, to continue to demand the decommissioning of Monju by pressuring the government not to waste taxpayers’ money.”
An estimated 9,500 people attended the rally, according to the organizer, which identifies itself as a citizens’ group that is collecting 10 million signatures for a petition to say "sayonara" to nuclear power.
Satoshi Kamata, a journalist who has written about the nuclear industry and a member of the committee, said the government should phase out the entire nuclear program.
“Unplugging Monju is just a starting point in ending Japan’s nuclear fuel recycling policy and the restart of nuclear power plants, as well as in changing the course of the nation’s nuclear power policy,” he said.