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Dozens of anti-nuclear power protesters marched around downtown Tokyo and in front of Tokyo Electric Co (Tepco) on 11 March, as the country mourned the thousands who lost their lives in a massive earthquake and tsunami five years ago. The events triggered the world's worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.
The protesters, who shouted anti-nuclear power slogans, began their march at a park in downtown Tokyo. They were monitored by both uniformed and plain-clothed police officers. They then made their way to the Tokyo headquarters of Tepco, which owns and operates the now-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, where meltdowns in three reactors spewed radiation over a wide area of the countryside, contaminating water, food and air.
"Five years have passed, and there are still people who can't return home, and there are people who are getting sick. I feel the most anxious about the radiation leaks from the nuclear power plants," Junko Niwa, a protester and employee of Tepco, said.
"I was shown the extent of the damage after the disaster happened, and it made me realise I didn't do much to help. I thought about what I should do, and realised I needed to raise my voice," Masamichi Kato, an activist who participated in Friday's march, said.
Trillions of yen in government spending have helped stricken communities rise from the ruins, including elevating the earth to protect them from future waves and cleaning radiation-contaminated land, but much remains to be done for thousands still languishing in barrack-like temporary housing. Government spending on reconstruction is set to dip from the start of the new fiscal year in April, but Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has pledged continued support.