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Anti-nuclear protest in Tokyo as Japan's crisis deepens

Issue No. 2245

The crisis in Japan is deepening as millions grapple with the devastating effect of the recent earthquake and tsunami, and the nuclear crisis that followed.

It is unclear whether it is safe to drink and use water from taps close to the Fukushima nuclear plant. Bottled water is being flown in from other countries.

As the plant was evacuated once again last week, a government spokesperson responded by saying, “Of course the level [of radiation] is better if it is lower.”

Many are furious at this flippant response—and they are starting to take action. Some 1,000 marched through the centre of Tokyo against nuclear power last Saturday.

People also expressed anger at the government’s failure to provide accurate information about the nuclear crisis, or deal with its ongoing effects.

The protest followed an evacuation of workers from the Fukushima plant as radiation levels reached over 1,000 millisieverts per hour. It is recommended that exposure to radiation should not exceed 250 millisieverts in a whole year.

Plutonium

Radiation in the water at the plant is 100,000 times greater than normally found, and it is leaking into the sea. Plutonium has now been recorded in the surrounding soil.

Tepco—the Tokyo Electrical Power Company—that owns and runs the plant originally claimed it was ten times higher.

Most experts say that even a dose of 100 millisieverts can increase the risk of cancer.

Two workers at the Fukushima plant were rushed to hospital last week when their feet and ankles started burning as they waded through water in the number two reactor. Another worker fled when his equipment recorded radiation levels exceeding 1,000 millisieverts.

The government criticised Tepco for putting out false information. But it has allowed the company to operate for 40 years despite regular breaches of safety regulations and cover ups of radiation leaks.

Tepco and the Japanese government are endangering workers at Fukushima. The US Environmental Protection Agency says workers are at increased risk of developing cancer and haemorrhaging.

No wonder people are protesting. The ongoing crisis shows the horrific danger that nuclear power poses. All nuclear power stations should be shut down now.


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International
Tue 29 Mar 2011, 18:01 BST
Issue No. 2245
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