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Anti-nuclear protest in Japan, biggest in decades

Tokyo, July 17 (): In the Japan’s largest anti-nuclear protest rally in decades, where tens of thousands of people gathered at the Tokyo’s Yoyogi Park on Monday, Japanese urged the government to stop its restarting of the country’s reactors.

Japanese protests against the atomic power generation are starting to generate severe steam. In the recent weeks, a wave of anti-nuclear sentiment was caused due to the failure of the tsunami-affected Fukushima Daiichi plant on March 11, 2011.

More than 170,000 protesters participated in the march. The gathering attracted the masses from regions all over Japan, including Fukushima. With some drums and singing, the thousands gathered, mostly elderly and families — were accommodated on the grass. They were fluttering banners and listening to speeches. Half-a-dozen helicopters were circling above.

The rally was led by pop star Ryuichi Sakamoto, Nobel-winning novelist Kenzaburo Oe and visual artist Yoshitomo Nara. The rally broke up at 1:30 p.m. into three distinct marches through the Japan’s capital. The leaders of the movement say that they have got 7.4 million signatures for a request demanding a phase-out of nuclear power.

It was the largest protest since Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda last month said Japan wanted to restart the atomic reactors, which were shut down for the safety checks, to avoid shortage of electricity which might hit the economy.

Anti-nuclear protests have increased momentum especially in Tokyo, where thousands of protesters gather every week to shout slogans in front of Noda’s official residence.

Noda, who at first called the anger of protesters and their rallies as “loud noise,” said last week that he was totally aware of the public opinion in both ways for and against the nuclear power.

Recent polls show that the public opinion stays divided between those who argue that Japan should stop nuclear power and those who caution of energy shortage. A majority favour more severe checks of nuclear reactors.

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