Thousands of activists have shown up for a protest around Japan’s parliament, demanding that the government not restart the nuclear power plants, which have been put on hold after last year’s Fukushima nuclear disaster.
Many of the protesters came to Japan's parliament complex wearing gas masks. They chanted anti-nuclear slogans and were beating on yellow oil-drums. They also voiced their anger at the restart of two plants earlier this month.
Organizers put the number of those who came at 200,000 people, though police estimated the lower figure of 17,000.
The information about details of the planned protest was actively being spread via Twitter and social networks.
The main aim was to attract ordinary people’s attention to the problem.
In comparison, the first rally in a string of peaceful events fueled by fears over the safety of nuclear power on March 29 gathered only 300 people.
Protesters have grown increasingly frustrated with Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s order to restart two reactors – No. 3 and nearby No. 4 – in June.
The public fears over the risks of nuclear power are at decades high after the meltdown at the Fukushima Daichi power plant, which happened after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
Several probes into the accident revealed the poor state of both industry safety standards and governmental regulation of the nuclear power industry.
Prior to the disaster Japan received a third of its electricity output from nuclear power. After Fukushima, all of the country’s operational reactors were suspended for safety inspections. All 50 working reactors in Japan went offline in May for “routine checks”.
The government says Japan’s economy cannot function without the restart of reactors, explaining that people's living standards could not be maintained without nuclear energy.
Just days before the latest protest, on Friday, activists gathered outside Prime Minister Noda’s residence