Massive protests in Germany post Fukushima had forced the German Government to shut down all its nuclear energy reactors and focus on green energy. Other countries like Switzerland, Belgium too decided that the disadvantages of nuclear energy were just too great compared to the advantages of nuclear power. However Japan, which is the home not only to the use of the ‘only’ nuclear weapons but also one of the most disastrous peace time nuclear disasters, has decided to restart its nuclear power plants.
The backlash against the new and existing Nuclear Power Plants has started in different places around the world despite defiant expressions by Nuclear Plant Owners and Operators. While China and Italian utility Enel have said that they will go ahead with their billion dollar investment plans, Switzerland and Germany have put nuclear plant extensions on hold. Note Germany had extended the life of Nuclear Plants in the country by 10 years after extensive lobbying by the Nuclear Industry. This had led to huge protests from the Opposition Greens but the Government had gone ahead in order to reduce Power Costs. However Merkel has been forced to eat humble pie and has said that a 3 month review will be done to check the safety of the Nuclear Reactors. Switzerland has also come out and put the plans for new Nuclear Reactors on Freeze.
The protests by the Japanese people have largely been ignored by the Government till now, but the growing intensity may force it to rethink. The protests have been growing larger every week and it has culminated in the largest record breaking protest rally of 170,000 Sayonara Nukes. 10 million signatures are also being collected to make the Japanese Government give up nuclear as a power source for good. The Japanese PM is under relentless pressure with protests being organized every Friday and his blog clearly shows that pressure. I don’t think it will be too long before he caves in to the popular will.
Japan’s nuclear debate has intensified considerably with the restart of reactors. Weekly protests at the prime minister’s residence have been supplemented by the biggest rally so far and a huge petition.
The same artists have organized a petition expressing an ‘emotionally fuelled’ request for a ‘natural energy society’ and have so far gained exactly 7,481,365 signatures towards their stated goal of 10 million. On 12 July this was presented to Takahiro Yokomichi, the speaker of the Diet lower house.
Another manifestation of this popular and public movement is a protest each Friday at the official residence of prime minister Yoshihiko Noda. A month ago 45,000 people were drawn to this regular event demanding Noda abandon the idea of restarting any reactors.