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Fukushima Meltdown’s 2nd Anniversary Brings Protests Against Japan’s Reliance on Nuclear Power via Democracy Now!

Japan stands at a crossroads over its reliance on nuclear power as the country marks the second anniversary of one of the world’s worst atomic disasters. On March 11, 2011, a massive earthquake triggered a devastating tsunami that struck Japan’s northeast coast, killing more than 20,000 and leaving at least 150,000 homeless. The twin disasters also triggered a meltdown at the Tokyo Electric Power Company’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, stranding more than 315,000 evacuees. Japan responded by halting nearly all nuclear-related projects. But two of the Fukushima nuclear power complex’s existing reactors are now operational again, and construction has resumed at the Oma nuclear power plant. Over the weekend, thousands of Japanese marched in opposition to nuclear power. We are joined from Kyoto by Aileen Mioko Smith, executive director of Green Action. [includes rush transcript]

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AMY GOODMAN: Shortly after the Fukushima accident, Democracy Now! spoke to George Monbiot, the author and columnist with The Guardian of London, about the incident and implications for the use of nuclear energy.

GEORGE MONBIOT: I’m very worried that the global response to what’s happening in Fukushima will be to shut down nuclear power stations around the world and to cancel future nuclear power stations, and that what will happen is that they will be replaced by coal. Now, coal is hundreds of times more dangerous than nuclear power, not just because of climate change, though, of course, climate change is a big one, but also because of industrial accidents and because of the impacts of pollution on local people. If we just look at industrial accidents alone, these massively outweigh both the fatalities and the injuries caused by any nuclear accident we’ve ever seen.

AMY GOODMAN: That was George Monbiot of The Guardian. Aileen Mioko Smith, your final comment?

AILEEN MIOKO SMITH: Well, being from the city where the Kyoto Protocol originated, I can tell you very clearly that one of the reasons we did not move forward with work on reducing global warming in Japan is because of nuclear power. Nuclear power was stated as a way of reducing CO2, when the government knew that it won’t happen, new nuclear builds would not happen. And as a result, we lost a decade or more without working on more conservation, efficiency and renewables. So, nuclear power is the biggest block towards making progress on conservation and energy efficiency and renewables. And so, what happens is that, you know, nuclear power is unreliable. It shuts down. Well, what do you have to replace it? Coal-fired plants. And so you spike up the CO2 releases.

So what we need to do is end nuclear power, and that will open up the way to more conservation, renewables and, you know, renewable energy. Germany is a good example. There was a blossoming of renewable energy, but only after Germany decided to stop nuclear power. So, you know, when you hear something that was just said, you think, “Oh, that makes sense,” but it’s not true. Look at the reality.

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