Hundreds of out-of-town protesters gathered Sunday evening at the Oi nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture in a last-ditch attempt to stop the reactivation of its No. 3 reactor.
The Oi plant is the first in the country to be reactivated after inspection since last year’s Fukushima nuclear crisis. All the nation’s commercial reactors have been offline since early May.
Kansai Electric Power Co. said it was planning to start removing the No. 3 reactor’s control rods at 9 p.m. The utility aims to achieve a sustained nuclear fission chain reaction, known as criticality, early Monday, and begin transmitting power Wednesday from the plant, which sits on the Sea of Japan coast. Full operation will likely be possible by July 8.
Chanting "Sayonara nuclear power" and waving banners, tens of thousands of people marched in central Tokyo on Monday to call on Japan’s government to abandon atomic energy in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear accident.
The demonstration underscores how deeply a Japanese public long accustomed to nuclear power has been affected by the March 11 crisis, when a tsunami caused core meltdowns at three reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi complex.
The disaster — the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl — saw radiation spewed across a wide part of northeastern Japan, forcing the evacuation of some 100,000 people who lived near the plant and raising fears of contamination in everything from fruit and vegetables to fish and water.
Thousands of anti-nuclear protesters marched in Japan on Saturday, three months after an earthquake and tsunami triggered the worst nuclear disaster in 25 years, urging the government to cut reliance on atomic power.Three reactors went into meltdown after the earthquake hit the Fukushima Daiichi plant in northeastern Japan, forcing 80,000 residents to evacuate from its vicinity as engineers battled radiation leaks, hydrogen explosions and overheating fuel rods.Company workers, students and parents with children on their shoulders rallied across Japan, venting their anger at the governments handling of the crisis, carrying flags bearing the words "No Nukes!" and "No More Fukushima."
Small business owners and laborers forced to leave their homes and jobs because of radiation leaking from Japan’s tsunami-flooded nuclear plant rode a bus all the way to Tokyo on Wednesday to demand compensation from the plant’s operator.
People are increasingly growing frustrated with Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s handling of the nuclear crisis, which has progressed fitfully since the March 11 tsunami swamped the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, knocking out important cooling systems. Restoring them will take months.
"I am not asking for anything more than I am entitled to," said Ichijiro Ishikawa, 69, who dug roads and tunnels and is now living in a shelter because his home is in a 12-mile (20-kilometer) evacuation zone around the plant. "I just want my due."