Large rally to express opposition to nuclear energy is held in Tokyo

by Kohei Okata, Staff Writer

A rally organized by Novel Prize-winning author Kenzaburo Oe and others to express opposition to the use of nuclear energy, dubbed the “Goodbye to Nuclear Power Plants 100,000 People Rally,” was held at Yoyogi Park in Tokyo on July 16. Organizers announced that some 170,000 people took part in the rally, while the figure announced by the National Police Agency was “about 75,000.”

Among the rally participants were members of citizens’ groups urging that the reactors at the Shimane nuclear power plant, located in the city of Matsue, be decommissioned, and that the construction of a nuclear power station in the town of Kaminoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture, be halted. Along with others from across the country, the members of these groups voiced a united appeal for breaking away from the use of nuclear energy.

Near the main site of the rally, on a street that was closed to cars, representatives of regional groups that are opposed to nuclear energy stood atop a van and informed the crowd of current conditions in their areas. Four people from the “Goodbye Shimane Nuclear Power Plant Network” attended the rally. One member of this group, Yasue Ashihara, 59, referred to an evacuation plan for residents in the event of a nuclear accident, a document compiled by the Shimane prefecture government and other organizations. Ms. Ashihara, a Matsue resident, stressed, “The evacuation plan is just a piece of paper. The best measure to ensure safety is to stop operations at the nuclear plant.”

Shoji Kihara, 63, a resident of Saeki Ward, Hiroshima, and co-chair of the Hiroshima chapter of the “Stop Kaminoseki Nuclear Power Plant Network,” expressed opposition to the construction of the nuclear plant by pointing to its harmful impact on the environment.

At another location, Mikiso Iwasa, 83, a resident of Funabashi, Chiba Prefecture, and executive director of the Japan Confederation of A- and H-bomb Sufferers Organizations, addressed the crowd, saying, “Let’s work together to create an era that is free from the fear of suffering as a result of radiation exposure.”

(Originally published on July 17, 2012)