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Thousands in Tokyo Demand 'Drop Nuclear Power'

Rally follows protests by Fukushima cleanup workers against dangerous conditions and low wages

Sarah Lazare, staff writer

Over 5,000 people rallied in Tokyo's Hibiya Park on Saturday to demand the government scrap a plan to restart commercial nuclear reactors in Japan.

The protest comes shortly after the three-year anniversary of Japan's March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that led to the meltdown of fuel-rods at several reactors at the Fukushima nuclear plant, prompting the worst nuclear disaster the world has seen since Chernobyl. The plant continues to leak radiation, and neither owner TEPCO or the Japanese government have offered a clear plan for stabilization.

"We have to seriously think about whether nuclear power is a good idea for Japan," said protester Masatoshi Harada, quoted by AFP. "This is an opportunity for Japan to drop nuclear power."

In addition to Saturday's march, Fukushima cleanup workers demonstrated at the headquarters of TEPCO on Friday to protest dangerous working conditions and poor wages, Al Jazeera and AFP report. A similar worker protest took place Friday outside Maeda Corp, one of the contractors hired to cleanup the ravaged plant.

Since the 2011 Fukushima disaster, Japan's commercial nuclear reactors have been halted. Yet, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe recently vowed to shift course and start the process of re-opening the country's commercial nuclear reactors. Regulators are currently deliberating whether to permit the restart two reactors at Kyushu Electric Power's Sendai power plant.

Saturday's rally follows protests of tens of thousands in cities across Japan last weekend to demand the government say no to nuclear power.


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