Occupy METI!

A group of protesters have camped out in front of the METI offices in Tokyo. METI is the ministry in charge of nuclear power oversight. There have been earlier protests at METI demanding they take more meaningful action to protect the people from the nuclear power industry. Last week 1300 people showed up in the rain to form a human chain around the METI building.

The ongoing sit in including tents in front of the METI offices met some minor resistance by police who eventually gave in. Two women in their 60’s refused to leave and demanded they be allowed to talk to the emperor. The group is demanding that all nuclear reactors in Japan be permanently shut down as they go offline for maintenance. They say this is just the immediate goal.

One of the protesters made this comment:

Chieko Shiina, a leader of the Fukushima-based group who joined the sit-in protest at the ministry, says, “The government has been trying to hide truths on the disaster. Many children and babies have been left behind in the disaster zone.”

The protest “is a way to take direct action to convey our voices to the government,” Shiina says. Some see a link with the high-profile “occupy” protests in Western countries, which call for action against the capitalist economy and the growing gap between rich and poor. Tanaka, who covered the anti-Wall Street protests in New York, has dubbed the tent protest in Tokyo “Occupy Industry Ministry.” The nuclear situation in Japan does have a wealth dimension, Shiina says. Many of the nuclear plants are in the country’s poorest regions, so the risk they pose to locals is underestimated. The relative poverty of the region is one reason the government “abandoned Fukushima” after the disaster, she says. – Sapa


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