Social movements: Anti-nuclear movements in Fukushima

by Jun Yasukawa

In March 11, 2011, a huge earthquake and tsunami occurred and wide range of Tohoku was damaged. Those damages were mostly due to the enormous tsunami, but there was another big problem. It is the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. It was a series of equipment failures, nuclear meltdowns, and releases of radioactive materials at the Fukushima 1 Nuclear Plant, after the disaster of Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. It is said that it is the largest nuclear disaster since the Chernobyl disaster, which happened in 1986. Because of this nuclear problem, anti-nuclear movements occurred not only in Japan, but also in all over the world. People all over the world once again recognized the danger of the nuclear plants and the risk that they have toward citizens. On March 12, 2011, about 60,000 Germans lined up on the street, forming a human chain that is about 45-km long, from Stuttgart to the Neckarwestheim power plant. Also, on March 14, 2011, about 110,000 people protested in 450 German towns. During this social movement, opinion poll was conducted and it indicated that 80% of Germans opposed the extension of nuclear power by the government. There are many other anti-nuclear social movements all over the world, such as the ones by 2,000 anti-nuclear protesters in Taiwan and Switzerland. Of course, this is only few cases of anti-nuclear movements, and there are a lot other ones also around the world.

Although the fact that this many people all over the world protest against nuclear power plants, the reality is that we need to depend on nuclear power. That is because it is able to generate big amount of power and if we are not able use nuclear power, there might be a lack in power. Right now, all the nuclear plants in Japan are stopped, but it took long time to stop it, because Tokyo Electric Power Company hesitated to stop it.

I think that almost all the people around the world oppose or have a negative image towards nuclear power plants. However, it seems like those voices are weaker than government’s and companies’ voices, despite the fact that there are way more number of people. Since government and big companies have authorities and powers, it may be a natural thing. However, it is very unfair because unclear power problem is an issue that is deeply related to our life. So I strongly think that our voices need to be heard more. And I hope that government, electric power companies, and other top authorities will compromise and work together with citizens, and we all should seek for our bright future.

References

The New York Times March 8 2012, “Japan’s Nuclear Energy Industry Nears Shutdown, at Least for Now” http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/09/world/asia/japan-shutting-down-its-nuclear-power-industry.html?ref=energyandpower&_r=0

BBC News, March 26 2011, “Germany stages anti-nuclear marches after Fukushima” http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-12872339

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