Tokyo anti-nuclear rally draws thousands
An estimated 60,000 people have taken to the streets of Tokyo in the the largest anti-nuclear demonstration since the Fukushima nuclear meltdown six months ago.
They are calling on the Japanese government to end what they describe as their country's "addiction to nuclear power", but prime minister Yoshihiko Noda has signalled that Japan needs nuclear energy.
Organisers, who had hoped 50,000 people would turn up, said protesters converged from all parts of the country, including from the fallout zone in Fukushima.
"This protest is an expression of Japanese public opinion. And what we are saying is that we don't need nuclear power plants. We have to change to renewable energy," Fukishima resident Toshikazu Kogure said.
Also among the crowd was a group of fashion designers as well as a homeless association, celebrities, office workers, and housewives. And at times, the speeches brought many to tears.
"The Fukushima disaster has made all Japanese very worried. We have to find new energy sources and stop our reliance on nuclear. That's why 60,000 people have gathered here," protester Keiko Kimigaki said.
After rallying and chanting in a Tokyo park, the protesters hit the streets. And they kept on coming. Their march stretched back over several city blocks.
But the challenge for these demonstrators will be maintaining the momentum, especially with the new prime minister in Japan, who signalled that he is keen to retain nuclear energy.
In fact, Mr Noda will tell the United Nations later this week that Japan and its economy must continue to rely on nuclear energy for now.
His predecessor wanted to phase it out.
Now free of the burden of office, former prime minister Naoto Kan has revealed that as prime minister at the time of the disaster he contemplated the worst-case scenario - the evacuation of 30 million people from Tokyo and the surrounding area.
In the end it did not come come to that, but Mr Kan said if it had, Japan would not have been able to function as a state.
Some would argue that this state is finally functioning as it should, with tens of thousands publicly questioning the policies of their government and the competence of the nuclear companies.