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Fukushima residents say resounding “no” to nuclear energy via Reuters

(Reuters) – Get out of nuclear power and do it fast, angry Fukushima residents told Japanese government officials on Wednesday at a public hearing on energy policy held in an area ravaged by a nuclear disaster that has whipped up opposition to atomic power.

The Fukushima hearing, the ninth out of 11 planned nationwide, sought to gather views on nuclear power’s role in the nation’s energy mix as the government struggles to cover a power shortfall by that could threaten economic growth.

Meltdowns at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima nuclear plant after an earthquake and tsunami on March 11 last year caused radiation to spew over large areas of Fukushima, forcing more than 160,0000 people to flee. In the following months, all of Japan’s nuclear plants were shut for safety checks. Two reactors resumed operations last month.

“I want all the reactors in Japan shut immediately and scrapped,” a grey-haired woman, who introduced herself as a farmer living 65 km (40 miles) from the Fukushima plant, said at the public hearing in the prefecture capital.

“Many people are now aware that the government’s talking of ‘no immediate risk to health’ is tantamount to ‘long-term health risk’,” she said to the applause of about 200 residents packed in a small concert hall.

Goshi Hosono, minister in charge of the response to the nuclear crisis, was heckled as he apologized for the suffering of people in Fukushima.

“I will never forget what I heard today, and I’m determined to do everything I can,” he said.

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