Anti-nuclear protesters surround parliament
Thousands of people formed 'a human chain' around Japan's parliament complex yesterday to demand the government abandon nuclear power -- the latest in a series of peaceful demonstrations that are on a scale not seen for decades.
Voters also went to the polls in a closely watched regional election for governor in south-western Yamaguchi Prefecture, where an outspoken anti-nuclear candidate is running.
Protesters in Tokyo said they were angry the government restarted two reactors earlier this month, despite safety worries after the multiple meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in March last year. They were the first to come back into operation since May -- when the last of Japan's 50 working reactors went off-line for routine checks.
Protesters lined up along the blocks around the parliament building, chanting, "Saikado hantai," or "No to restarts," and later lit candles.
"All these people have gotten together and are raising their voices," said Shoji Kitano (64), a retired maths teacher.
Mr Kitano said he had not seen such massive demonstrations since the 1960s.
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda defended his decision to restart the two reactors at Ohi nuclear plant in central Japan as necessary to maintain people's living standards. Other reactors are also expected to go back online, one by one.
Reports from government and legislative investigations have been released on the Fukushima disaster, which have done little to allay people's fears.