Can Japan’s Anti-Nuclear Protesters Keep the Reactors Shut Down?

For months after a devastating earthquake and tsunami crippled Japan’s Fukushima power plant, sparking fears of a possible nuclear meltdown, the country’s anti-nuclear groups struggled to be heard. A few small rallies were held, but they failed to generate much media coverage. As debates raged from Germany to China about the safety of nuclear reactors, commentary in Japan, of all places, was strangely absent. Protests are just that unusual in this conservative country.

But this is starting to change. As Fukushima continues to spew more radioactivity into the air and trust in the government and Tokyo Electric Power Co. plunges, the mood in Japan is slowly shifting away from nuclear power. On Sept. 19, the mounting anger and fear culminated in a rally of some 60,000 anti-nuclear protesters in Tokyo — the largest such gathering since the March 11 quake and tsunami.

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