Posts Tagged ‘Fukushima’

Fukushima, No to Racism & No to Assad

Wednesday, March 16th, 2022

Fukushima, No to Racism & No to Assad. Three years ago on Saturday 16th March 2019 people marched in London 8 years after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, still spreading radioactivity, took part in a large demonstration on UN Anti-Racist Day chanting ‘No to Fascism’ and ‘Refugees are welcome’ here while Syrians calling for a peaceful, democratic Syria marched to a rally in Whitehall on the 8th anniversary of the start of the Syrian revolution.


Remember Fukushima 8 years On

Anti-nuclear campaigners met outside the Japanese Embassy on the eight anniversary of the meltdown of three nuclear reactors at Fukushima. Little progress has been made on cleaning up the site and large amounts of radioactive material are still being released.

50,000 people are still refugees and many are being given no alternative but to move back into areas still heavily contaminated. The clean-up is proving much more difficult than anticipated.

From the Japanese Embassy they marched down Piccadilly, where I left them to go to another protest, returning later to photograph them at a rally opposite Parliamen.

Remember Fukushima 8 years On


No to Racism, No to Fascism

Park Lane was packed at the start of the march on UN Anti-Racism Day to show solidarity with the victims of racist attacks and oppose Islamophobic hate crimes and racist policies in the UK and elsewhere.

The march was joined by a wide range of groups, all agreed that ‘Refugees Are Welcome Here’ and opposed to fascism and racism. Many held large posters denouncing racist leaders from around the world, including Presidents Trump and Bolsonaro as well as fascist party leaders.

The march to a rally in Whitehall had an added significance after the previous day’s Christchurch mosque attack by a white supremacist terrorist who killed 51 people and injured 40.

No to Racism, No to Fascism


8th Anniversary of the Syrian Revolution

I left the anti-racist march on Piccadilly and walked and ran back up to Marble Arch, close to which I met Syrians opposed to the Assad regime who were marching through London from Paddington Green to a rally in Whitehall on the 8th anniversary of the start of the Syrian revolution.

Unfortunately their revolution was sold out by Western leaders who failed to stand up to the Russian support for President Assad and his authoritarian regime, ending any real hope of Assad being defeated and a peaceful democratic Syria.

Although the fight continues in Syria, and there remain some autonomous areas such as Rojava, the revolution as a whole seems doomed to failure at least for the foreseeable future.

8th Anniversary of the Syrian Revolution


More on My London Diary about the three events:

8th Anniversary of the Syrian Revolution
No to Racism, No to Fascism
Remember Fukushima 8 years On


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Tibet, Syrians, Nuclear Melt-Down, Islamophobia & Lions

Tuesday, March 15th, 2022

Tibet, Syrians, Nuclear Melt-Down, Islamophobia & Lions. Saturday 15th March, seven years ago was another typically varied day of protests on the streets of London which I covered.


London March for Freedom for Tibet

Every year Tibetans and supporters in London protest around the anniversary of the Tibetan National Uprising against Chinese rule in 1959, ten years after the Chinese invasion of the country. In 1959 the Dalai Lama and 120,000 Tibetans escaped to India and established the Tibetan Government in Exile.

In 2014 they met at Downing St for a march to a rally outside the Chinese Embassy in Portland Place, calling for Tibet to be free and in charge of its own destiny again and for an end to the illegal Chinese occupation. They say China is destroying Tibetan culture, and Tibetans are rapidly becoming a minority in their country as thousands of migrants are brought in. Peaceful protests by Tibetans are met by arrests, torture, death and lies, and China’s economic power means western countries adopt what they have called a policy of ‘constructive engagement’ with China, effectively turning a blind eye to the occupation and to human rights abuses in Tibet.

I left the Tibetans shortly after their march went through Trafalgar Square to photograph another protest.

London March for Freedom for Tibet


Syrians March for International Action

I had met the Syrians before the start of their march close to Hyde Park corner and had left them as they began their march along Piccadilly on the third anniversary of the start of their fight for freedom. I met them again as they came down Whitehall for a rally at Downing St to show their commitment to the cause and their solidarity with fellow Syrians inside and outside Syria.

The marchers from the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces and the UK Syrian community called for Assad to go and were appealing to the Britain and the international community to help them to get rid of him. Unfortunately although western leaders condemned the actions of the Syrian government they were not prepared to back up their words with action, and it was left to Russia, who backed Assad to determine the future of the country. Few can doubt that the weakness shown by the west over Syria was not a major factor in Putin thinking he could successfully invade Ukraine.

Ukraine is not of course Syria, but it is hard to read the statement made by the Syrians I quoted in my post without seeing some parallels: “Syria, once proud of its contribution to culture, its distinguished history and its beautiful mosques and churches has been overwhelmed with a brutal dictatorship. Syrian homes have turned to rubble, echoing the unheard screams of its inhabitants. The regime has tried to silence the call of freedom by murdering over 150,000, injuring 500,000, imprisoning 250,000, making 1.5 million refugees and caused over 4.5 million internally displaced people within Syria, and recently started using chemical weapons…” Putin in Syria saved a brutal dictatorship, while in Ukraine it seems his aim is to impose a different regime on the country, perhaps less brutal but requiring similar means for it to be imposed.

Syrians March for International Action


Fukushima Nuclear Melt-down Remembered

Earlier I had been at Hyde Park Corner where protesters had gathered on the third anniversary of the nuclear melt-down at Fukushima to march through London, first to the Japanese Embassy and then on to a short stop at Downing St before a rally in Parliament Square.

I photographed them again at Downing St, but had to leave as they marched away to their rally.

Fukushima Nuclear Melt-down Remembered


English Volunteer Force march in London

The English Volunteer Force is a coalition of various far-right groups and described the protest on Facebook as “highlighting multiple issues from immigration, Islamic hate preachers, sharia law, Sharia zones, Sharia patrol groups, banning the Burhka!, Halal meat, endless applications for more mosques etc.”
They insist that they are ‘patriotic’ and are not racist, and claim not to be against Muslims but simply against Muslim extremists, though I found this hard to take seriously.

The march started outside the Lord Moon of the Mall pub close to the Trafalgar Square end of Whitehall where people were just coming out of the pub as I arrived. Police were taking a great deal of trouble to keep anti-fascist who were intent on stopping the march from getting close to it, but were unhelpful when I complained about an assault by one of the protesters who shouted at me and pushed my camera into my face.

A few minutes before the assault I’d mingled with the protesters as they walked down to Downing St, joking with some I knew from earlier right-wing protests I’d covered previously. They seemed pleased that I was covering the event – and although they were clear we differed greatly in our views had personally invited me to some cover some ‘patriotic’ events as they trusted me to report accurately on them.

There were several groups of counter-protesters but generally they were kept apart by police – and by stewards in an official protest area against the EVF opposite Downing St. There were a few arrests both of anti-fascists and of EVF marchers who tried to attack them, and one of the larger groups of anti-fascist was kettled by police on Parliament St.

English Volunteer Force march in London


Save Our Lions – Ban Canned Hunting

Finally I walked back up Whitehall to Trafalgar Square, where hundreds had come for the Global March for Lions, marching from different starting points to meet and call for a ban on the ‘canned’ hunting of captive lions by wealthy trophy tourists.

Legal but unscrupulous, ‘canned hunting’ is big business in South Africa, with more than 8,000 lions in captivity, bred on lion farms. Rich visitors pay large sums to take part in lion shoots, where the targets are unable to escape, often raised to be tame and used to human presence and drugged to make them easy kills. Over 160 lion killing camps have been set up in South African in the last 15 years.

As I commented: “It is a terrible way to treat a wild and noble animal, but it also greatly threatens the wild lion population. To prevent the inbreeding that is rife in captive lion populations, wild lions continue to be captured, while the growth in the Asian lion bone trade increased poaching.”

Save Our Lions – Ban Canned Hunting


More about all these events on My London Diary:
Save Our Lions – Ban Canned Hunting
English Volunteer Force march in London
Fukushima Nuclear Melt-down Remembered
Syrians March for International Action
London March for Freedom for Tibet


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Fukushima Nuclear Distaster Remembered

Friday, March 11th, 2022

Fukushima Nuclear Distaster Remembered. Recent shelling of an administration building at a Ukrainian nuclear plant revived memories and fears of the nuclear disaster eleven years ago at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Okuma, Fukushima, Japan. In those 11 years I’ve photographed various events in London, including this one on the 7th anniversary.

Remember Fukushima, 7th Anniversary

On Sunday 11th March 2018, Kick Nuclear (London) and Japanese Against Nuclear London supported by CND remembered the victims of the continuing Fukushima disaster and all victims of nuclear power and nuclear bombs.

It wasn’t a huge protest, perhaps because after 7 years the media seem to have decided that Fukushima is no longer news, but radiation is still being released from the damaged nuclear plant and its effects will be felt for many years, with estimates of between 100-650 people expected to die from long term cancers caused by the immediate radioactivity leak and more from the continuing release of radiation.

The marchers gathered outside the Japanese Embassy on Piccadilly, where there were still monthly protests over the disaster. There was a vigil there and outside the offices of the plant operators TEPCO in High Holborn on 28th January 2022 which I was unable to attend after it was found that the radiation level was far worse than had been thought, presenting a serious challenge to the continuing shutdown process and overall decommissioning of the site.

Outside Lockheed Martin’s offices

Nuclear power has never lived up to the early promises of plentiful low cost electricity and remains both expensive and dangerous. In the UK it was always linked to the production of military weapons, and we were fed lies about its potential. There are still no satisfactory solutions to the disposal of highly radioactive nuclear waste which requires safe storage into the next millennium – a toxic legacy to our future generations.

Fortunately the UK seldom experiences more than minor earthquakes and the control systems here are rather more sophisticated than those at Chernobyl. But the Windscale fire in October 1957 was one of the worst nuclear disasters in the world, sending radioactive fallout across the UK and Europe.

Protesters wait for a horse who doesn’t like yellow to be walked away

Later it was found that as well as large amounts of iodine-131 which causes thyroid cancer there were also significant amounts of the more dangerous polonium-210 (the deadly poison put in the tea of former Russian spy, Alexander Litvinenko, in London in 2006.) It later emerged that there had been earlier accidents at the the plant releasing significant amounts of strontium-90.

Reports of the Windscale accident were heavily censored by the fact that milk from farms over an area of 190 square miles close to this military nuclear plant meant it could not entirely be covered up this time.

From the Japanese Embassy there was a procession along Piccadilly to Lower Regent St where it stopped for a brief protest outside the offices of Lockheed Martin, one of the companies making nuclear weapons, before stopping for a photograph in front of Downing St and going on the Old Palace Yard, opposite the Houses of Parliament where they held a rally.

Speakers at the rally included Bruce Kent and Kate Hudson of CND and fashion designer Kate Hamnett. The speeches condemned the continuing nuclear power programme which has always been closely linked with the production of nuclear weapons and, never an economically viable method of power production, has now been rendered entirely obsolete by improved renewable energy sources. There were some musical performances and a poet read one of her poems about Fukushima. I had to leave before the rally concluded with a die-in.

More at: Remember Fukushima, 7th Anniversary


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Fukushima 10 years on

Thursday, March 11th, 2021

On 11th March 2011 the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan suffered the worst nuclear disaster since the 1986 Chernobyl meltdown. An earthquake had led to the reactors to automatically shut down their electricity production which led to the plant relying on emergency power generators to run the cooling pumps needed to keep the reactors safe. But the tsunami tidal wave almost 50 ft high caused by the earthquake swept over the plant’s sea wall and flooded the generators, cutting the power supply.

Windscale 1957, Three Mile Island 1979, Chernobyl 1986, Fukushima 2011′ 

Without cooling, three reactors heated up and then melted down and over the following three days there were three explosions of hydrogen gas and the release of huge amounts of radiation from the damaged reactors to the air and the Pacific Ocean. The release of radiation into the ocean was continued at high levels for at least 2 years, and there is still some leakage from the plant.

154,000 people in the area had to be evacuated from their homes in a area of 20km radius from the nuclear plant. The clean-up is expected to continue for another 20-30 years. You can read much more about the disaster in ‘10 Years Since The Fukushima Nuclear Disaster‘ by Philip White.

The possibility of such a disaster had been predicted in studies carried out some years earlier and an internal report by the company running the plant, TEPCO, had in 2000 recommended that there should be improved safety measures, but the management rejected both this and a 2008 internal report calling for better protection against seawater flooding.

Campaigners in London held regular protests outside the Japanese Embassy and TEPCO’s London offices for some years and have organised larger annual protests on or close to the March 11th. Among the on-line events scheduled for 2021 is the free International Uranium Film Festival with two films online including Fukushima No Daimyo, a 2014 Italian film (in Japanese with Portuguese sub-titles) from March 11-18.

More pictures on My London Diary:

2017: Fukushima anniversary challenges nuclear future
2018: Remember Fukushima, 7th Anniversary
2019: Remember Fukushima 8 years On
and in 2011, 2013 and 2014.


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Fukushima anniversary

Sunday, June 30th, 2019

It’s hard to believe that it is 8 years since the nuclear disaster at Fukushima when three reactors went into meltdown on 11 March 2011, but it is a disaster that is still continuing, with high levels of radiation in parts of the plant and clean-up of the site will take many more years, although life is begining to get back to normal in the surrounding area.

It is still far to early to give any definitive figure for the number of deaths th accident and its associated leak of radioactive material will cause, but Fukushima  ranks only second to Chernobyl in the long list of nuclear accidents. One method of estimation suggests it will eventually result in around 130 deaths from cancer.

Nuclear power has never yet lived up to the promises made by its advocates of clean, abundant and cheap energy, and even though the costs of decommisioning nuclear power stations has largely been disregarded, the costs of nuclear energy run high. Nuclear power plants have largely developed around the world because of their production of isotopes for nuclear weapons rather than simply to provide energy. Unless and until it becomes possible to develop nuclear fusion reactors it would make sense to put nuclear on hold, and to concentrate investment on reducing energy use and backing low-cost renewables such as on-shore wind.

Although the health risk from Fukushima may be lower than some activists suggest, it has had huge disruption for those in the surrounding area, with many having to be evacuated. Clearly it was a nuclear facility in the wrong place and with inadequate regard for safety. The operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), was found to have failed to meet basic safety requirements including risk assessment, preparations for containing collateral damage, and developing evacuation plans. 

There continue to be regular protests about Fukushima in London, and an annual march on or close to the anniversary. I like to photograph them both because I think it important to end reliance on nuclear energy and becuase they are colourful and slightly surreal events, with people dressing as large bright yellow containers of nuclear waste and carrying large sunflowers, and some fine graphic posters.

Remember Fukushima 8 years On


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