TOKYO: Monday, July 16, 2012 - Depending on who you ask, anywhere from "tens of thousands" to 200,000 Japanese citizens showed up Monday at Tokyo's Yoyogi Park to voice their outrage at the Diet's recent report blaming the disaster at Fukushima Daiichi on the 'complacent and obedient' Japanese culture. Response by the people? …Obey THIS!
Kyodo News (subscription) reported 170,000 citizens attended the rally, called by organizers "100,000 People's Assembly to say Goodbye to Nuclear Power Plants." The group includes Nobel laureate Kenzaburo Oe, pop star Ryuichi Sakamoto and visual artist Yoshitomo Nara, demanded an immediate end to reliance of the nation on nuclear power. The movement's leaders say they have collected 7.4 million signatures on a petition demanding the phase-out of all nuclear power in the island nation.
The 16th rally for what has been dubbed the Hydrangea Revolution protested government approval last month for restart of two more reactors at the Oi plant in western Japan. The Wall Street Journal's Japan Realtime blog, organizers say the crowds have grown from the first rally on May 29th from an original 300 to 150,000 last week, to 200,000 on Monday. Tokyo police closed off all but one subway exit near the demonstration, allowing the other three only for departures of city workers going home.
The demonstrators expressed offense at the findings of the parliamentary report released earlier this month, which said, [Fukushima Daiichi's] …"fundamental causes are to be found in the ingrained conventions of Japanese culture - our reflective obedience, our reluctance to question authority, our devotion to 'sticking with the program,' our groupism and our insularity."
Protester and schoolteacher Midori Tanaka said, "Things can never change if we blame culture. We need to get to the bottom of this." Oe told the crowd that blaming Japanese culture was a cop-out, and that the individuals in charge - including the president of TEPCO - should be held responsible. Sakamoto said from the stage that life is more important than money, adding in English that "Keeping silent after Fukushima is barbaric."
So far the Tokyo police have not responded to the ever-growing crowds with the kind of brutality we have seen here in the U.S. against peaceful protesters of the OWS movement. They have for the past couple of weeks been cordoning off the street and sidewalks in front of the Prime Minister's residence as well as the subway exists, so for this rally the protesters gathered in the park.
In my last diary I listed some of the odd issues that have led to repeated glitches in the restart of the Ohi [Oi] reactors, including "lightning" setting off radiation alarms last weekend outside reactors 1 & 2. On Sunday evening this week, alarms began sounding as reactor 4 was being started up. The first alarm sounded around 6:20 p.m. indicating a rise in the pressurizer relief tank for the primary cooling system of reactor 4, a Pressurized Water Reactor [PWR], which is a different design from the GE Mark I and II BWRs that melted at Daiichi last year.
The second alarm sounded after 1 a.m. Monday morning, alerting operators that an auxiliary motor for the Emergency Diesel Generator was malfunctioning. Despite assurances from the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency [NISA] that these problems will not affect the #4 restart schedule, the people of Japan certainly appear to be dedicated to ending the entire charade of "Clean, Safe, Too Cheap to Meter" that has so severely damaged the earthquake-prone nation.
Another government panel is set to release its report later this month, despite complaints that on-site investigation and time were limited arbitrarily by TEPCO. This report contrasts worker responses to the quake and tsunami that devastated both TEPCO nuclear reservations at Daiichi and Daini. Naohiro Masuda, plant chief at Daini, testified that the reactors at his reservation almost suffered "…the same fate as No. 1" [Daiichi]. The workers at Daini did not manually shut down emergency cooling, as was done at Daiichi for unit 3. This report will also conclude that had officials bothered to use the SPEEDI data on radiation releases, thousands of residents being evacuated could have avoided moving into the path of the plumes.
The consequence of that certainly isn't designed to absolve TEPCO or any of Japan's erstwhile regulators of responsibility for the consequences, which 16 months later are reported by the Fukushima Prefecture Health Management Survey (Section 7), as translated by Fukushima Voice, 35.8% of Fukushima's children with thyroid cysts or nodules. These will affect thyroid functioning in these children in the future, and many will progress to thyroid cancers. All the result of just one of the hundreds of radioactive substances released by meltdowns, melt-throughs and explosions at Fukushima Daiichi - iodine-131, with a half-life of 8 days.
The decimation of the young is unacceptable in any nation, let alone such a small nation in which a large area is now so contaminated with radioactive fallout that it will remain uninhabitable for hundreds of years. There is only one proper response to the recent graphic illustration of just how dangerous nuclear power truly is -