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Thursday 18 September 2014

Protesters gather to campaign against nuclear power on third anniversary of Fukushima

Raziye Akkoc,

Published 15/03/2014 | 14:36

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People pray for victims of the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami as Tokyo Electric Power Co's (TEPCO) tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is seen in the background at Namie town, Fukushima prefecture. Tuesday marks the third year anniversary of the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami that killed thousands and set off a nuclear crisis.  Reuters
People pray for victims of the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami as Tokyo Electric Power Co's (TEPCO) tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is seen in the background at Namie town, Fukushima prefecture

Dozens of people are protesting against nuclear power following the third anniversary of the Fukushima disaster in Japan.

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The crowd of around 50 protesters gathered at Hyde Park Corner before marching past the Japanese Embassy and one of the buildings housing the Tokyo Electric Company and ending near the Houses of Parliament in Westminster.

The organisers hope today's march will send a message to people warning of the dangers of nuclear power as well as remembering the victims of the Fukushima disaster on March 11, 2011.

One of the organisers, David Polden, said: "We're here because it's the third anniversary of the Fukushima disaster. We're trying to remember the victims and point out that the damage is still continuing with water (used to cool reactors) flowing into the Pacific and the main buildings are in a very bad state.

"It's still very dangerous. There are spent fuel rods at the top of the roofs (of reactors) and if the building collapses, it would be terrible and it would let out their radioactive contents."

Protesters held placards and banners calling for "no nuclear power", "protect mountains, rivers" and "no new nukes" with signs in English, French and Japanese.

Mr Polden, a London region worker for CND, added: "They're (the Tokyo Electric Company who owns the Fukushima plant) taking the rods out now, and we haven't heard any problems yet.

"The message we want to send is stop nuclear. There are plans in Japan to reopen nuclear power stations but the majority of Japanese people are against them and there are plans for power stations here in the UK."

He added that the danger of nuclear power was illustrated by the Chernobyl, Fukushima and the Three Mile Island disasters.

As the march continued, the crowd chanted "no more nuclear" and "no more Fukushima" and more people joined including the Bromley branch of the Green Party. Numbers grew to more than 100 as they passed the Ritz Hotel in London.

Margaret Toomey, a member of Bromley and Bexley Green Party, who has been giving out leaflets for campaign group Japanese Against Nuclear UK for the past 18 months, said: "We're here today because it's the third anniversary.

"The four nuclear reactors are emitting 400 tonnes (of dangerous waste) per day into the North Pacific and the company is using poor people to try and repair the nuclear reactors but things are the same as they were three years ago. There was another leak three weeks ago in a storeroom. That waste was pushed into the North Pacific."

During the march, there were individuals dressed as nuclear waste barrels which they hoped would highlight the fact that nuclear power created nuclear waste.

Curious onlookers on Piccadilly Road were accosted by some of the marchers explaining the purpose of the march and handing out leaflets.

As the march continued towards Piccadilly Circus, the fluorescent yellow banners and flags dominated the road and tourists looked on with amazement.

Members of the public who took leaflets could be heard agreeing that change was needed with regards to attitudes towards nuclear power.

Leaflets produced by Japanese Against Nuclear UK (JAN) gave a winter update about deadly spent fuel rods being removed from reactor number four at Fukushima.

According to JAN, 1,553 bundles of rods have to be removed which will take a year to complete if the rate of 44 bundles a week continues.

But the leaflet warns: "And if something 'unfortunate' does happen, it is quite likely to lead to Tokyo having to be abandoned, and a few million extra cancer cases around the world."

A Japanese marcher said it was important to say no to nuclear everywhere and said it was not the "right decision" in the UK to have nuclear plants.

Atsuko Kamura, a member of JAN, said: "We're calling on the Japanese government to take appropriate measures at Fukushima.

"It's a complicated issue and it's not solved yet. According to German magazine, Der Spiegel, within seven years seafood from around the area cannot be eaten."

Ms Kamura added the Japanese government was "manipulating" the media in the country "to cover up the dangers" still in Fukushima and as a result Japanese people did not know how dangerous the situation was.

"The media is very quiet and poor people have had to go back" to homes near the plant, she said.

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