| TOKYO, June 29
TOKYO, June 29 More than 15,000 anti-nuclear
protesters blocked streets outside the Japanese prime minister's
office on Friday, beating drums and chanting slogans against the
restart of reactors nearly 16 months after the world's worst
nuclear disaster in 25 years.
The crowd blocked off a six-lane road and adjoining streets
leading to the Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's official
residence in central Tokyo. Police parked five armoured riot
control buses in front of the entrance to prevent protesters
entering the compound.
Several helicopters circled overhead as the sun went down on
a clear, early summer evening.
The protest capped weeks of sporadic demonstrations and was
the biggest gathering in central Tokyo since Noda said this
month the restart of two reactors in western Japan was necessary
to avoid damaging the economy.
All of the country's 50 nuclear reactors were taken off line
after an earthquake and tsunami hit the Fukushima nuclear power
plant on the northeast coast on March 11 last year, triggering
the world's worst atomic accident since Chernobyl in 1986.
Nuclear power had previously supplied nearly 30 percent of
The first of the two Ohi reactors operated by Kansai
Electric Power Co is scheduled to be reactivated on
The crowd, including office workers, mothers with children
and elderly people, chanted "oppose restarts" and "exit nuclear
The decision to restart the reactors as summer power-cuts
loom was seen as a victory for Japan's still-powerful nuclear
But Japanese people have grown wary of nuclear power since
Fukushima, with surveys showing that about 70 percent want to
abandon atomic energy even if not immediately.
(Editing by Robert Birsel)