11 April 2011
Thousands of people marched in Tokyo against nuclear power Sunday afternoon, nearly a month after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami sparked a crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant that has shown few signs of abating.
The crowd of people mainly in their 20s and 30s packed Koenji Chuo Park south of JR Koenji Station at 2:30 p.m. for speeches and music before setting off on a march that lasted more than two hours.
"I was vaguely against nuclear power before [March 11] but I'd never been to a protest or anything," said Jun Watanabe, who came with his wife and two friends. "I've been seeing notices about this demonstration on Twitter for a couple of weeks, so I thought I'd come. They say we can't do without nuclear power but I don't agree."
Although placards and banners held by protesters expressed anger and frustration--"Stop polluting the air and water," "Don't trust the government"--the atmosphere was festive, with many people in costumes, bands giving live performances at the park before the march, and groups of musicians playing drums, rock and traditional Japanese festival music while people walked.
A recent antinuclear-power song sung by Kazuyoshi Saito, which he created based on the melody of his hit "Zutto Suki Datta" (I always loved you) and which was posted on YouTube a couple of days ago, was sung many times.
The crowd was overwhelmingly made up of younger people, but some senior citizens were marching, too, and many families with small children were in attendance.
Three women from western Tokyo brought their six boys and girls between the ages of 2 and 9. "I brought my kids so they could learn about nuclear power and because I couldn't come if I didn't bring them," one of the women said.
Homemade placards called nuclear power "dangerous" or "deadly." Others expressed anger at Tokyo Electric Power Co. or the government and many decried the environmental damage caused by the nuclear crisis.