Anti-nuke protests in Japan three months after quake

Japan on Saturday marked three months since its massive quake-tsunami and resulting nuclear crisis, amid simmering public frustration over the government’s slow response to the catastrophe.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan, under heavy pressure to step down, visited part of the disaster zone where about 8 000 people remain unaccounted for and more than 90 000 others are holed up in crowded shelters.

Thousands of people were expected to attend an anti-nuclear rally in Tokyo as radiation continued to leak from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, some 220km north-east of the capital.

They were to observe a minute’s silence at 2.46 pm (5.46 GMT), the moment the 9.0-magnitude quake struck below the Pacific seafloor, sending monster tidal waves over the country’s north-east coast.

The death toll from the quake — Japan’s biggest on record and the world’s fourth largest tectonic event since 1900 — has topped 23 000 including the missing.

Kan was to attend a government-sponsored forum in the port town of Kamaishi on ways to improve survivors’ lives, said his spokesman, who apologised for the fact that many people were still enduring harsh conditions.

Newspaper editorials criticised the Kan government’s handling of the calamity.

“Its assistance to disaster-hit local governments has been insufficient,” the mass-circulation Yomiuri Shimbun said.

“The removal of rubble has been overly delayed. Construction of makeshift housing for evacuees has yet to get on the right track.”

More to come
Rebuilding the muddy wastelands of the north-eastern Tohoku region — an area now covered in 22 500 000 tonnes of rubble — will take up to a decade and cost hundreds of billions of dollars, say experts.

A 20km no-go zone has been enforced around the Fukushima nuclear plant, which emergency crews hope to bring into stable “cold shutdown” between October and January.

Environmental and anti-nuclear group Greenpeace called on Japan this week to evacuate children and pregnant women from Fukushima town, about 60km from the stricken plant, because of what it said was high radiation.

Since the disaster, Japan has raised the legal exposure limit for people, including children, from one to 20-millisieverts per year — matching the safety standard for nuclear industry workers in many countries.

Greenpeace is among organisers of the anti-nuclear rally in Tokyo.

Aside from their Energy Shift Parade in Tokyo, more anti-nuclear rallies were planned nationwide, including in the western cities of Osaka and Hiroshima, which was devastated by a United States atomic bomb in 1945.

Protesters also planned a Tokyo demonstration against embattled nuclear plant operator the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), once the world’s biggest utility, whose share price has plunged more than 90%.

In the wake of the disaster, Kan has said resource-poor Japan will review its energy policy, including its plans for more nuclear reactors, while making solar and other alternative energies new pillars of its energy mix. — AFP

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

Where do Africans study abroad?

China is becoming the preferred destination for countries such as Ghana and Nigeria

The first undeniable climate change deaths

In Japan, in 2018, more than 1 000 people died during an unprecedented heat wave. In 2019, scientists proved it would have been impossible without global warming

Covid-19: A case for why we all should wear homemade face masks

Countries that have mandated mask-wearing for people going out in public have shown a decrease in the rate of Covid-19 infections

Hindsight is 2020 for Japan

Tokyo has a history of cancelled Olympics – but a different type of war caused it to cancel in 1940

Develop the Advanced Manufacturing Institute to increase SA’s competitiveness

The institute should develop products that are applicable to different industries, such as 3D-imaging and self-driving cars

What would an Olympics cancellation cost Japan?

Japan has a diversified economy not heavily reliant on tourism. But with domestic spending already weak, the hit from a cancellation could ripple through and further depress local purchasing.

Subscribers only

Toxic power struggle hits public works

With infighting and allegations of corruption and poor planning, the department’s top management looks like a scene from ‘Survivor’

Free State branches gun for Ace

Parts of the provincial ANC will target their former premier, Magashule, and the Free State PEC in a rolling mass action campaign

More top stories

Mboweni plans to freeze public sector wage increases for the...

The mid-term budget policy statement delivered by the finance minister proposes cutting all non-interest spending by R300-billion.

SAA to receive R10.5-billion government bailout after all

Several struggling state-owned entities received extra funds after the medium term budget policy speech

Malawi court judges win global prize

Members of the small African country’s judiciary took a stand for democracy to international approval

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday