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Thousands join anti-nuclear protest

A protester holds a placard during an anti-nuclear demonstration in Tokyo, yesterday. Photo: PA

A protester holds a placard during an anti-nuclear demonstration in Tokyo, yesterday. Photo: PA

Thousands of people rallied in a Tokyo park yesterday, calling for an end to atomic power and vowing never to give up the fight, despite two years of little change after the nuclear disaster in northeastern Japan.

I am going to fight to prevent any more reactors from being restarted

Gathering two days ahead of the second anniversary of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that sent the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant into meltdown, demonstrators said they would never forget the world’s worst nuclear catastrophe since Chernobyl, and expressed alarm over the Government’s eagerness to restart reactors.

“I can’t see what lies ahead. It looks hopeless, but if I give up now, it’s over,” said Akihiro Nakata, a 47-year-old owner of a construction company, who had a drum slung around his shoulder. “I’d rather die moving forward.”

Only two of Japan’s 50 working nuclear reactors have been put back online since the disaster, partly because of continuous protests like yesterday’s, the first time such demonstrations have popped up in this nation since the 1960s movement against the Vietnam War.

People have thronged Tokyo parks on national holidays, and have gathered outside the Parliament building every Friday evening. The demonstrations have drawn people previously unseen at political rallies, such as commuter ‘salarymen’ and housewives. Organisers said today’s demonstration drew 13,000 people.

Two years after the disaster, 160,000 people have left their homes around the plant, entire sections of nearby communities are still ghost towns, and fears grow about cancer and other sicknesses the spewing radiation might bring.

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