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Despite Fukushima disaster, anti-nuclear activists fight uphill battle in Japan via The Christian Science MonitorDespite Fukushima disaster, anti-nuclear activists fight uphill battle in Japan

The triple meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant last March unleashed the largest wave of public protest the country, not known for its activism, has seen in decades.

But activists say they are struggling to turn widespread anger toward the government agencies and industry responsible for the disaster into a sustained movement that causes real change.

“[After the accident] parents’ groups sprang up all over the country, and for six months or so they’ve been able to run on pure momentum. But long-term activism is very difficult. We have to turn this into a movement that doesn’t forget, doesn’t give up, and doesn’t stop,” says Emiko Ito, a mother of four and co-founder of the National Network of Parents to Protect Children from Radiation, which has over 275 member organizations from Hokkaido to Okinawa.


But long-time environmental activist and conference co-organizer Aileen Mioko Smith says anti-nuclear groups have not experienced the same dramatic growth as radiation-protection groups.

“Masses of people are not calling to say, ‘What can I do?’” she says. “There’s a route where people are worried about [contaminated] food or rubble, then do some petitions, then that leads to, ‘Hey, why is this going on?’ But it’s not everyone.

In fact, many radiation-protection groups have distanced themselves from the anti-nuclear movement in order to broaden membership.

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  1. norma field says

    It’s profoundly discouraging to think that radiation-protection groups have to distance themselves from antinuclear groups. This sort of compromise in the interest of “broad membership” occurs everywhere. It seems tragic in this case, requiring suspension of basic sense. How can the protection of children from radiation be separated from the continued existence of nuclear power? Where’s the leadership to articulate the fundamental principles?

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