Japan’s Largest Anti-nuke Protest In Decades

TOKYO Japan — In the end, the final head count was secondary. Whether you believe the police figure of 75,000 protesters or the organizers’ estimate of 170,000, today’s anti-nuclear rally in Tokyo was the biggest the capital has seen for decades, and a sign that popular opposition to nuclear power has endured during the 16 months since the Fukushima disaster.

The searing heat didn’t stop a huge crowd from squeezing in to Yoyogi Park to listen to speeches by one of Japan’s most celebrated figures in the anti-nuclear movement, the Nobel literature laureate Kenzaburo Oe.

Oe, along with the composer and musician Ryuichi Sakamoto and other activists, is putting together a 10 million-strong petition demanding the closure of all of Japan’s nuclear power plants. The group has presented the government with some of the 7.5 million signatures it has already collected.

Their goal of a nuclear-free Japan received a setback last month with the restart of a reactor at Oi power plant in western Japan. A second reactor at the plant is due to go back online later this week.

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