30 Mars 2013
March 30, 2013
The first anniversary was marked Friday of the weekly antinuclear demonstrations in front of the prime minister’s office that have grown steadily partly via the popularity of social media.
At the latest rally, the 48th organized by the Metropolitan Coalition Against Nukes, demonstrators chanted “Get rid of nuclear power plants” and “Don’t restart them.”
According to the organizer, people have taken to the streets in Tokyo’s Nagata-cho political district every Friday from 6 p.m. since March 29, 2012, to call for the elimination of nuclear power in light of the Fukushima atomic plant crisis that started on March 11, 2011.
The demonstrations originally attracted around 300 people but grew drastically as word spread through social media networks, including Twitter and Facebook.
Within three months, the weekly rallies started to draw more than 100,000 participants as the then-ruling Democratic Party of Japan moved to restart two reactors at Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Oi nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture.
Since late last year, several thousand people have been turning out for the rallies.
Misao Redwolf, who played a key role in organizing the rallies, said, “It is very unpleasant to mark the first anniversary, but we have to do it (the rally) as not all reactors have stopped operation yet.
“We believe it is important to continue providing a space where anyone can join in” to protest, she said, adding that antinuclear demonstrations have been held in many places across Japan at the same time each week.
Makio Tahara, 65, who attended the rally with his 10-year-old grandchild, said, “It is hard to achieve a withdrawal from nuclear power acting as an individual, but whether it is effective or not, it is important to express our feelings.”
Anti-nuclear activists gathered outside the prime minister's office on March 29 to call for an end to Japan's dependency on nuclear power and mark the one-year anniversary of the Friday night protests.
Organizers said 6,000 people took part in the rally to also protest restarts of idled nuclear reactors. The first of the weekly protests outside the Prime Minister's Official Residence in central Tokyo was held on March 29, 2012.
The protests stem from the nuclear disaster in Fukushima Prefecture triggered by the March 11, 2011, Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.
The anniversary rally started at 6 p.m. and lasted for two hours. Protesters chanted anti-nuke slogans and held up placards. One of them read: "Defend the children," while another read, "Return our homeland."
"I had been getting on with day-to-day life and found that the nuclear power issue was no longer uppermost in my mind," said 38-year-old Tomoko Matsumura, who brought her fifth-grade daughter to participate in the weekly protest for the first time. "I heard it was the first anniversary, and that persuaded me to join."