Tuesday, June 26, 2012

"Don't restart dangerous nuclear power plants!": 10,000 Angry Citizens Gather in front of PM's Office


As the government hastily moved towards the restart of operation of Oi Nuclear Power Plant, many protest actions were organized across the country by citizens during the first half of June.       
In Tokyo, 2700 people gathered in front of the Prime Minister's Official Residence on June 1 for the Friday evening demonstration. The number of participants in this weekly action that several anti-nuke groups in the Metropolitan area started in March grew rapidly as the information spread through Twitter and other means on internet.
On June 8, an estimated 4000 protesters listened to the radio broadcast of the announcement by Prime Minister NODA Yoshihiko to restart two idled reactors of Oi Nuclear Power Plant live through amplifiers prepared by action organizers. Outraged, they started shouting before the announcement was over. As it finished, the cries turned into a roar of "No to restart!"in unison and lasted for half an hour. 
The number of participants of the following week, 15 June, was well above 10,000. The sidewalk along the subway exits was soon filled with people all the way down from the corner facing to the Prime Minister's Office. The police ultimately made part of the road available for the protesters.
As the media reported that the government would make the decision on 16 June, people were were with anger. "Nuclear plants are too dangerous. Operation should never be resumed." "Save the children!" "People's lives are more important than the economy." "The process so far is not at all democratic." Many ordinary citizens, including young men and women, office workers, housewives and students took the microphone and expressed their opinions. So did some no-nukes activists/entertainers and Diet members including those from the ruling Democratic Party.
The media coverage of these protests was limited. Though there were more than 100 reporters on the site on June 15, no reports were aired on TV or radio news programmes that night. Among major newspapers available in the Tokyo Metropolitan area, only one national daily had an article without a photo the following morning. People opposing to the restart were increasingly frustrated with mass media.     
In the vicinity of the Prime Minister's Official Residence, various groups conducted protest actions on other days as well. (See another article on the die-in by women from Fukushima) .
On June 14, OE Kenzabro, a Nobel laureate writer, and other representatives of the No Nukes 10 Million Signatures Campaign met with Chief Cabinet Secretary FUJIMOTO Osamu in the Prime Minister's Official Residence to submit 7,222,297 signatures collected by the beginning of June. The rally and march for the first interim report of the Campaign was held on June 6 in Hibiya Koen Park in the central business and administrative area with some 2300 participants.


15日の参加者はついに1万人を超えた。官邸前からメトロ沿いの歩道はぎっしり埋まり、警官隊もついに車道の一部を開放して、人並みの整理にあたった。「16日にも最終決定」と報道され るなか、人々の怒りはピークに達していた。「とにかく危険な原発を絶対にやめてくれ」「子どもを守りたい」「経済より命」「日本は民主主義国ではないの か」「なぜマスコミは反対の声を報道しないのか」オープンマイクで若者・サラリーマン・女性・主婦・学生が次々に訴えた。山本太郎、藤波心、民主党や共産 党の国会議員もマイクを握った。
大手メディアによる このような抗議行動の報道は、極めて限られていた。15日夜の首相官邸前には100名を越える取材陣が集まったが、TV/ラジオでは全くとりあげられず、翌日の新聞は全国紙一社が写真もない小さな記事を載せたのみ。市民は大手メディアへも怒りを募らせている。

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