” KAGOSHIMA–About 1,800 people from around Kyushu converged here on Oct. 12 to protest the planned restart of another reactor at the Sendai nuclear plant, saying the operator has made a decision that is “suicidal.”
Waving placards stating, “Nuclear plant, no more,” and shouting slogans in unison, the protesters, who are members of anti-nuclear groups and other citizens in the Kyushu region, started the rally in front of JR Kagoshima-chuo Station.
Kyushu Electric Power Co. is pushing to bring online the No. 2 reactor at the plant in Satsuma-Sendai, Kagoshima Prefecture, as early as Oct. 15. In August, the No. 1 reactor at the plant resumed operations, the first in Japan under stricter safety standards implemented after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.
The protesters were particularly critical of what they described as Kyushu Electric’s “suicidal” decision to restart the No. 2 reactor without replacing a steam generator in the reactor building with more durable one. The utility had planned to replace the generator in 2009.
The rally kicked off with a special concert by the Seifuku Kojo Iinkai (Uniform improvement committee) idol group, known for its original songs containing progressive political messages.
In her address at the rally, Ryoko Torihara, chairwoman of a local residents group in Satsuma-Sendai demanding the nuclear plant’s closure, criticized others in the city for depending economically and psychologically on nuclear power.
“Three decades have passed since the plant started operations, and residents no longer seem to have creative minds to come up with alternative methods to sustain the city’s economy,” Torihara said. “We are still dependent on the nuclear plant through and through, and it has deprived us of incentives to change the status quo.”
During his speech, Wataru Ogawa, a member of an anti-nuclear citizens group in neighboring Miyazaki Prefecture, called for residents in Kyushu to stop buying electricity from Kyushu Electric to press the regional utility to abandon nuclear energy.
“To change Kyushu Electric’s attitude toward nuclear energy, we must purposefully refuse to buy electricity from the company once the electricity distribution becomes deregulated,” Ogawa said.
After the rally, the protesters marched through the center of the city. ”