On Wednesday, June 6th, 3,000 participants gathered at the “Goodbye to Nuclear Power Plants” rally in Hibiya Park, with the hopes of gathering 10 million signatures in protest of the government’s plans to restart the nuclear power facility in Oi, Fukui Prefecture. The rally marched right past the headquarters of the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), and continued on to a district that was filled with the various government ministries and organizations that much of the public holds responsible for the path taken that took the country towards last year’s nuclear crisis in Fukushima. At the rally’s start, there were speakers including writer Keiko Ochiai, journalist Satoshi Kamata, singer Takiko Kato, and most notably, novelist Kenzaburo Oe, winner of the Nobel Prize.
Oe called for Japan’s recognition that, while tragic, the March 2011 nuclear disaster could be seen as a moral lesson. He argued that the use of nuclear energy is a mistake, and even if it proves useful in the short-term, the people of Japan needed to look at the big picture and see that it only leads to downfall. The award-winning novelist also described how he gathered signatures himself with a mother from Fukushima Prefecture, standing in front of a train station. He said that it’s very difficult to face rejection, but to remember, that every person has to examine their own moral stance, and the decision to sign one’s name is not easy.
The Goodbye to Nuclear Power Committee began their drive for 10 million signatures last May, and so far have collected 7.22 million. This is a very impressive number when looking at the fact that the population of Tokyo, which represents around 10% of all Japan, stands at 13 million people. Organizers hope to reach their goal by the middle of this month, after which they plan to give the signatures to the office of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda. The committee’s petition calls for three conditions to be met; first, that no more nuclear power plants will be built in the future; second, that plutonium-powered facilities, such as the one in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture, be completely shutdown; and third, that the country’s energy policy make an immediate shift towards conservation and the use natural resources like solar and wind.