Compiled by Keito Hirabayashi
photos by Teppei Sato and others

Media reports claim that Kyushu Electric, the operators of the Sendai Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) in Japan’s southern most island, will restart the plant on August 11th after final tests are conducted today. This is the first NPP to be restarted after the last of Japan’s 48 reactors went offline in September 2013. New stress tests and a new regulatory board had been introduced since the Fukushima Daiichi disaster began in March 2011, and this is partially the reason why there was such a long period of nuclear free electricity supply in Japan, despite the stated intentions of the present government to restart as many NPPs as possible as quickly as possible. This was an extremely important period, which proved the lie of governments and the nuclear industry, so confidently propagated when the NPPs were forced to close down, that Japan would never survive without nuclear energy. Japan has successfully managed to get through 2 summers and 2 winters, the peak electricity use periods when governments and power companies predicted ‘life-threatening’ shortages, without so much as a blackout.

But if it was business as usual as per pre-Fukushima days, stress tests and regulatory boards would have proven no barrier to restarts. We all now know how NPP operators fudged test results which were never called by the regulators as they were all part of the same ‘village.’ There is no doubt that one of the major reasons why such a long no-nuclear period was possible in Japan was because of the people protesting not just in large numbers, but consistently every single week, outside the PM’s official residence and in towns and cities throughout Japan.

While the restart of Sendai NPP will be hugely disappointing for protestors, we must also acknowledge how much has been achieved. And use this strength to continue the fight. These photos show that it was ordinary people who got out on the streets, many for the first time in their lives, to voice their opposition to nuclear power. It was these ordinary people who managed, despite all odds, to hold off reactor restarts all this time. And it is these ordinary people who will continue to fight for a safe future for their children.

 I will protect the lives of my grandchildren (Photo-Teppei Sato, 2012)

I will protect the lives of my grandchildren (Photo-Teppei Sato, 2012)

The Metropolitan Coalition Against Nukes was formed in September 2012 from a number of different groups based in the Tokyo and opposed, for various reasons, to nuclear power. They have held protests every Friday outside the PM's official residence for nearly 4 years. (Photo-Teppei Sato, 2012)

The Metropolitan Coalition Against Nukes was formed in September 2012 from a number of different groups based in the Tokyo and opposed, for various reasons, to nuclear power. They have held protests every Friday outside the PM’s official residence for nearly 4 years. (Photo-Teppei Sato, 2012)

(Photo-Teppei Sato, 2012)

(Photo-Teppei Sato, 2012)

anti-nuclear protest in Japan after Fukushima - 2

anti-nuclear protest in Japan after Fukushima - 3

Woman from Futaba, right next door to Fukushima Daiichi, demanding that her hometown be returned to her…with businessman… (Photo-Teppei Sato, 2012)

Hydrangea Revolution (Photo-Teppei Sato, 2012)

Hydrangea Revolution (Photo-Teppei Sato, 2012)

People came to the PM's residence, rain or shine, sometimes in their thousands, sometimes in tens of thousands (Photo-Teppei Sato, 2012)

People came to the PM’s residence, rain or shine, sometimes in their thousands, sometimes in tens of thousands (Photo-Teppei Sato, 2012)

Larger Demonstrations have also been held in other parts of central Tokyo like this one in September 2011, which started in Yoyogi Park and proceeded down Omote Sando in the Shibuya district of Tokyo (Photo-Mainichi Shinbun)

Larger Demonstrations have also been held in other parts of central Tokyo like this one in September 2011, which started in Yoyogi Park and proceeded down Omote Sando in the Shibuya district of Tokyo (Photo-Mainichi Shinbun)

(Photo-AP)

(Photo-AP)

July2012IBT

Japan’s entire fleet of nuclear reactors had been shut down in May 2012, just over a year after Fukushima and in July that year, the government and electric power companies tried to convince the public that Japan would never get through the summer if some nuclear reactors were not restarted. The public was not convinced and numbers of protestors swelled. Despite these huge protests, eventually Ohi reactors 3 & 4 were restarted in July 2012. They were taken offline in September 2013, and Japan has been nuclear free since. (Photo-IBT)

This protest was held on March 8 2015 as a commemoration of the 4th anniversary of the beginning of the Fukushima disaster, urging Japan to remain nuclear free. Protestors voiced opposition to restarts of nuclear reactors, including Sendai (Photo- Xinhua News)

This protest was held on March 8 2015 as a commemoration of the 4th anniversary of the beginning of the Fukushima disaster, urging Japan to remain nuclear free. Protestors voiced opposition to restarts of nuclear reactors, including Sendai (Photo- Xinhua News)

In addition to mass demonstrations in central Tokyo, hundreds of demonstrations are held in towns and cities throughout Japan every Friday. This one is in western Tokyo in a district called Hachioji. Numbers vary but every week there are up to 100 or so people who march in the streets and shout slogans. (Photo- IWJ June 2015)

In addition to mass demonstrations in central Tokyo, hundreds of demonstrations are held in towns and cities throughout Japan every Friday. This one is in western Tokyo in a district called Hachioji. Numbers vary but every week there are up to 100 or so people who march in the streets and shout slogans. (Photo- IWJ June 2015)

This is another local demonstration in Saitama Prefecture demanding that Sendai NPP not be restarted (Photo-Maki Shirota, 9 August 2015)

This is another local demonstration in Saitama Prefecture demanding that Sendai NPP not be restarted (Photo-Maki Shirota, 9 August 2015)