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Fukushima in brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

The crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has spawned antinuclear protests in Tokyo on a scale not seen for decades, raising hopes among activists that Japan's future is geared toward a revolution in renewable energy. Japanese media estimated that 17,000 people calling for immediate closure of all the country's nuclear plants marched through Tokyo's Koenji neighborhood on April 10, and many thousands again on similar demonstrations early May.

30 Years of resistance against proposed Kaminoseki reactors.
Radition matters at Iwaishima Island. People do things just like their great-great-grandfathers once did, each day venturing out to sea to haul in seaweed, octopus and red snapper. Villagers are proud of their tightknit camaraderie and historical harmony with nature. But a utility company plans to build a nuclear power plant just across the bay, at the tip of the Kaminoseki peninsula. After receiving compensation, several nearby communities have hesitantly embraced the project.

Not Iwaishima. Many residents are convinced that the twin reactors will threaten not just their way of life but the long-term survival of the Inland Sea, a national park known as Japan's Galapagos for its range of sea life. They say the plant's warm water discharge will raise sea temperatures, altering the ecosystem.

So for three decades, since the Chugoku Electric Power Co. unveiled its plans in 1982, islanders have taken an unusually aggressive stand, turning their backs on efforts at negotiation. Graying residents, mostly in their 70s, have in recent years formed an alliance with young antinuclear activists. Together, they have staged hunger strikes, picketing and sit-ins, using a flotilla of fishing boats and kayaks to block company construction cranes from reaching the site.

After the Fukushima accident, the utility temporarily suspended plant construction after local officials expressed safety concerns. "Without our protests, that plant would already be running," said Masue Hayashi, 59, who began her opposition to the project when she was 30. "Those people near Fukushima could have been us."
LA Times, 5 May 2011

Farmers protest nuclear power.
Angry Japanese farmers working and living up to 60 kilometers away from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant have protested in the country's capital Tokyo that their businesses are in jeopardy. More than 200 farmers including cereal, vegetable and livestock growers demanded redress for farm products contaminated by radiation spewing from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant.
Agra Europe, 3 May 2011

Protest against increase permissible radiation levels.
On May 2, furious parents in Fukushima delivered a bag of radioactive playground earth to education officials in protest at moves to weaken nuclear safety standards in schools. Children can now be exposed to 20 times more radiation than was previously permissible. The new regulations have prompted outcry. A senior adviser resigned and the prime minister, Naoto Kan, was criticised by politicians from his own party. Ministers have defended the increase in the acceptable safety level from 1 to 20 millisieverts per year as a necessary measure to guarantee the education of hundreds of thousands of children in Fukushima prefecture.
Guardian (UK), 2 May 2011

Shareholders call for disinvestments in nukes.
Some of the shareholders of a Japanese electric power company say they want the utility to close its nuclear power plants. On May 2, a group of 232 individual stockholders of Tohoku Electric Power Company submitted the documents needed for their proposal to scrap its nuclear power plants. The proposal is expected to be put to a vote in an annual shareholders' meeting at the end of June. Tohoku Electric Power has 2 nuclear power plants in Japan's northeastern region, one in Higashidori Village in Aomori Prefecture and another in Onagawa Town in Miyagi Prefecture. The group is also calling for the company to end its investment in spent nuclear fuel reprocessing businesses, including a reprocessing plant at Rokkasho.
NHK, 2 May  2011