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Nuclear

Thousands protest in Japan on eve of Fukushima nuclear disaster anniversary

Thousands of anti-nuclear protesters have gathered across Japan. The rallies come on the eve of the two-year anniversary of an earthquake and tsunami that caused the Fukushima disaster.

Tens of thousands of people converged on central Tokyo's Hibiya Park Sunday in opposition to nuclear power. Activists and scholars gave talks and musicians performed before sign-carrying crowds that marched through the government district of Kasumigaseki to parliament.

"I think it is adults' responsibility to achieve zero nuclear power, before we die," said one of the banners held by protesters.

Anti-nuclear protests held across Japan

"Sayonara, nuclear power," read another sign.

Other similar events were held around the country and local media are reporting that as many as 150 anti-nuclear events are planned for the weekend and on Monday.

Worst nuclear disaster in a generation

On March 11, 2011 an earthquake and tsunami killed more than 15,000 people in Japan, with several thousand still unaccounted for. The incident caused a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, which severely contaminated the vast farming region and forced more than 160,000 people to leave their homes.

It was the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986, and sparked widespread anti-nuclear sentiment. A recent poll found that around 70 percent of Japanese want to eventually phase out atomic energy all together.

Since the disaster, Japan has turned off all 50 of its nuclear reactors, but restarted two of them citing possible summertime power shortages.

The country's nuclear future could be set to change, however, after the December election of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who - along with his Liberal Democratic Party - has long been supportive of atomic energy. Abe has said he wants to restart offline reactors if they meet new safety standards.

dr/slk (AFP, Reuters)

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