The last nuclear reactor in Japan was shut down today. The last of 50 nuclear reactors, this will be the first time in 40 years that Japan doesn’t generate any electricity with nuclear power.
Last year on March 11, an earthquake and tsunami caused meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plants, causing enormous human, environmental, and economic destruction
After the disaster, Japan began shutting down its nuclear reactors for ‘checkups’, following large public demonstrations against nuclear power.
“Today is a historical day,” Masashi Ishikawa shouted to a crowd gathered at a Tokyo park, some holding the fish-shaped banners that have become a symbol of the anti-nuclear protests.
“There are so many nuclear plants, but not a single one will be up and running today, and that’s because of our efforts,” Ishikawa said.
Despite the shutdowns, the government has been pushing to restart some of the reactors, citing power shortages and rising carbon emissions as the reason.
Though nationwide support for the closures is very high, the reaction of the people living around the plants has been somewhat mixed. Many losing their jobs, and the communities losing one of their main economic drivers.
Most of the large protests have occurred in large cities like Tokyo, which receive their power from power plants elsewhere, such as Fukushima before the disaster.
Before the disaster, Japan received about a third of its electricity from nuclear power.
There have been some government warnings about possible power shortages. But the protestors say that, if anything, with how smoothly the closures have gone, it shows they were never really necessary. Critics of nuclear power have said that the warnings are meant to create support for turning the reactors back on, and that they aren’t accurate.
“Let’s leave an Earth where our children and grandchildren can all play without worries,” Yoko Katoaoka, a retired banker, is quoted as saying, while wearing a shirt that reads, “No thank you, nukes,” handwritten on the back.
Decommissioned or not, the nuclear reactors will remain dangerous and vulnerable to disasters and future generations.