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9 Mar, 2014 17:21

Thousands hit Tokyo streets in anti-nuke protest (PHOTOS)

Thousands hit Tokyo streets in anti-nuke protest (PHOTOS)

As the third anniversary of the Fukushima disaster nears, tens of thousands rallied in the country’s capital Sunday to protest against the nuclear industry and speak out against the government’s plans to resume nuke energy production to power the economy.

"I felt it's important that we continue to raise our voice whenever possible," Yasuro Kawai, a 66-year-old businessman from Chiba prefecture, east of Tokyo, told AFP.

"Today, there is no electricity flowing in Japan that is made at nuclear plants. If we continue this zero nuclear status and if we make efforts to promote renewable energy and invest in energy saving technology, I think it's possible to live without nuclear," Kawai added.

People wearing protective suits and masks shout slogans next to mock drums (L) of nuclear waste from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, during a march denouncing nuclear power plants in Tokyo on March 9, 2014. (AFP Photo / Toru Yamanaka)

Protesters gathered in Hibiya Park, located close to government buildings, and marched around the national parliament.

Musicians performed using electricity generated by solar panels to help get the demonstrators’ message be heard.

Composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, who played music he wrote in 2011 to mourn the victims, said “the Fukushima incident continues today.” Over 1,600 residents of the stricken area died due to complications related to stress and other disaster-related illnesses, AFP reported.

Anti-nuclear protesters hold banners saying "No Nukes" before they march in Tokyo March 9, 2014.(Reuters / Yuya Shino)

On March 11, Japan will mark the grim anniversary of the deadly 9.0-magnitude earthquake that hit the country’s north, causing a huge tsunami that swept the northern Pacific coastline in 2011. Over 15,800 people were killed in the disaster and 2,636 remain missing.

The tsunami also triggered the failure of Fukushima nuclear plant’s cooling systems, which in turn led to meltdowns and leaks of radioactive material in the region. Engineers say it will take about 40 years to dismantle the crippled reactors.

Fukushima’s clean-up has been going through hard times throughout the past three years. In the latest incident, just over a week ago, the clean-up system’s alarm went off to alert that one of the cleaning pumps had stopped working.

An anti-nuclear protester wearing protective suit sits next to mock drums labelled as radioactive waste from Kansai Electric Power Co's Ohi nuclear power plant (L) and Tokyo Electric Power Co's (TEPCO) Fukushima nuclear power plant, before a march in Tokyo March 9, 2014.(Reuters / Yuya Shino)

People march down the street toward the official residence of the prime minister and the National Diet during an anti-nuclear power plant demonstration in Tokyo on March 9, 2014.(AFP Photo / Toru Yamanaka)