Japanese rally against nuke power

A protester takes part in an anti-nuclear power plant demonstration in Tokyo on Saturday. AFPBraving spring drizzle, thousands of demonstrators gathered at a park in Tokyo’s Shibuya district, many holding hand-made banners reading: “Nuclear is old!” and “We want a shift in energy policy!”

The protest came a day after Prime Minister Naoto Kan called a halt to operations at a nuclear plant southwest of Tokyo because it is near a tectonic faultline, fearing a disaster like that which hit the Fukushima Daiichi plant in March.

“I am happy to see the prime minister finally taking action,” said protester Manami Inoue, 28, who had a black and yellow “No” sign around her neck.

“But I want to know when the plant will really stop operations,” she said.

Fellow demonstrator Shinji Matsushita, 59, said: “I feel so frustrated because no politicians have made their stance clear—whether they are for nuclear or against nuclear.

“They keep saying nuclear is dangerous but never say they are against it.”

More than 10,000 people gathered for the demonstration, public broadcaster NHK said, after organisers spread the word through online social networks. Kan said on Friday he was ordering the suspension of operations at the Hamaoka plant 200 km from the capital while a higher sea wall was built and other measures taken to guard against quake and tsunami damage.

Local media said the suspension would be for about two years.

Seismologists have long warned a major quake is overdue in the Tokai region where the ageing Hamaoka plant is located, while anti-nuclear campaigners argue the seismically unstable area makes Hamaoka the most dangerous atomic facility in the quake-prone archipelago.

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