Anti-nuke protesters surround Japanese parliament

Thousands of people formed “a human chain” around Japan’s parliament complex Sunday to demand the government abandon nuclear power — the latest in a series of peaceful demonstrations on a scale not seen in the nation for decades.

 

Also Sunday, voters went to the polls in a closely watched election for governor of southwestern Yamaguchi prefecture, where an outspoken anti-nuclear candidate was running. Japanese media reported his loss late Sunday, citing exit polls, although official results had not been tallied.

Protesters said they were angry the government restarted two reactors earlier this month despite safety worries after the multiple meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in March last year. The reactors were the first to return to operation since May, when the last of Japan’s 50 working reactors went offline for routine checks.

Banging on drums and waving balloons and banners, protesters marched from a Tokyo park and lined up along the streets around the parliament building chanting, “Saikado hantai,” or “No to restarts,” and later lit candles.

Similar demonstrations have been held outside the prime minister’s residence every Friday evening. The crowds have not dwindled, as people get the word out through Twitter and other online networking. A July 16 holiday rally at a Tokyo park, featuring a rock star and a Nobel laureate, drew nearly 200,000 people.

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