By John Watanabe in Japan:
Report from anti-nuclear protests in Tokyo
21 April 2011
The ongoing crisis at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant following the March 11 earthquake that struck north-eastern Japan has produced rising public concern over the risks of nuclear power and indignation at the government’s response to the disaster. These sentiments have been reflected in public opinion polls, but also in small but significant protests.
Anti-nuclear street protests have been held over the past four weekends, but reports are conspicuously absent in the major Japanese media. Not a word! The biggest so far, on April 10 in Koenji, part of Tokyo, drew an estimated 15,000 people including many youth. It was directed against the Hamaoka nuclear plant southwest of Tokyo, which seismologists believe is built in an area due for a massive earthquake. The protest was organised by civic groups, which stressed their independence from political parties and labor unions, quite probably a contributing factor to the large turnout.
Public protests of any size have become relatively rare in Japan in recent decades. Large demonstrations took place against the US invasion of Iraq and the Japanese government’s subsequent deployment of troops to support the occupation. In April 2010, major protests took place against the government’s cave-in to US demands to maintain a controversial US military base on Okinawa.
As well as anti-nuclear rallies, scores of public lectures on nuclear power, petition signings and various anti-nuclear citizens’ initiatives have taken place. This reporter attended two rallies last weekend—on April 16.
Japan declares nuclear no-go zone: Authorities to restrict access to 20km zone around stricken Fukushima Daiichi plant: here.
Fukushima Residents Seek Answers Amid Mixed Signals From Media, TEPCO and Government. Makiko Segawa, The Asia-Pacific Journal: “In Japan, April’s cherry blossoms signal a symbolic beginning, a new stage in life. On April 6th, along with school children across the nation, Iwaki City, within the 40 km radiation exclusion zone, held many school entrance ceremonies for elementary, middle and high schools. Iwaki’s Yumoto Daini Middle School’s ceremony was a bit different: not only were there 33 new students, but refugees living on the school grounds and some members of the Self Defense Force also attended. Overall 107 people participated in the ceremony”: here.
“Seconds Away From Midnight”: US Nuclear Missile Pioneers on Okinawa Break 50-Year Silence on a Hidden Nuclear Crisis of 1962
Jon Mitchell, The Asia-Pacific Journal: “In October 1962, the United States and the Soviet Union teetered on the brink of nuclear war after American spy planes discovered that the Kremlin had stationed medium-range atomic missiles on the communist island of Cuba … Six months prior to the Cuban Missile Crisis, however, a parallel drama had played out on the other side of the world as the US secretly brought near-identical missiles to the ones the Russians stationed on Cuba to another small island – Okinawa”: here.