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Fukushima Fallout: Thousands Protest Against Nuclear Power in Japan

- Common Dreams staff

Thousands of demonstrators hit the streets of Yokohama, Japan on Saturday afternoon calling for an end to nuclear energy in Japan after the Fukushima March 11, 2011 disaster that sparked the planet's worst atomic crisis since Chernobyl. The protest began a 2-day conference committed to fostering global momentum against atomic power.

Anti-nuclear activists hold placards during a rally against nuclear energy in Yokohama, Japan. Thousands of demonstrators hit the streets of Yokohama on Saturday calling for an end to nuclear energy. Radiation fears have become part of daily life in Japan after cases of contaminated water, beef, vegetables, tea and seafood. They marched in the port city southwest of Tokyo chanting in chorus: "We don't need nuclear power. Give back our hometown. Protect our children."

UPDATE: The Kyodo News Service reports Sunday "Antinuclear Conference Calls for Full Support of Victims in Fukushima":

Citizens, politicians and scientists attending an antinuclear conference called Sunday for sufficient support to be provided to those affected by the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.

Participants of the Global Conference for a Nuclear Free World also called for "full transparency" by the Japanese government and the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., when dealing with the accident and helping victims.

The requests were part of the Yokohama Declaration that more than 10,000 participants from some 30 countries adopted on the second and last day of the event in Yokohama, organized by nongovernmental organizations such as Peace Boat.

Rights should be protected for those affected by the nuclear crisis, including "the right to evacuation, health care, decontamination, compensation and the right to enjoy the same standard of living as before March 11, 2011," said the declaration.

The declaration further urged the government to collect data related to the plant crippled after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in a "comprehensive" manner.

It also called on Japan not to export nuclear power generation equipment or technology to other countries in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe.

And the declaration said Japanese atomic power plants that are currently idled should not be restarted.

The Japan Times reports:

YOKOHAMA — A two-day antinuclear conference kicked off Saturday in Yokohama with the aim of sharing lessons from the Fukushima crisis and fostering global momentum against atomic power.

"Nuclear power plants are all over the world. In order to deal with this issue, we must create a global network," said Tatsuya Yoshioka, director of the nongovernmental organization Peace Boat, during the opening ceremony for the Global Conference for a Nuclear Power-Free World.

The conference drew thousands of participants to the Pacifico Yokohama convention center, including about 100 experts and activists from 30 countries and nearly 200 domestic groups.

Holding an event of this scale in Japan just 10 months after the Fukushima No. 1 plant meltdowns represents a significant accomplishment for the antinuclear movement, said Yoshioka, chairman of the event.

Germany's Rebecca Harms, a member of the European Parliament, said the Fukushima crisis had a strong impact on Europe, pointing to Germany's decision to close eight old reactors almost immediately after the crisis was triggered by the March 11 disasters.

She said Japan is now managing its electricity supply with much less dependence on nuclear power since only five of its 54 reactors are in operation.

She also said public opinion in Japan had changed and most oppose using atomic power in the future, bringing Japan's opinion in line with Germany's.

Japan does not need to go back to nuclear power, she said.

"Please, people of Japan, learn from the German experience."

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