Jordanians, Japanese mark anniversary of Fukushima atomic disaster
by Hana Namrouqa | Mar 12,2012 | 22:53
Jordanian and Japanese environment activists mark the first anniversary of Fukushima atomic disaster at the Amman Citadel on Sunday (Photo courtesy of Greenpeace)

AMMAN — One year after the earthquake and tsunami that triggered the Fukushima atomic disaster, Jordanian and Japanese environment activists on Sunday appealed to the government to learn lessons from Japan’s tragedy and abandon its nuclear programme.

As some lit candles and others held banners that read “One year on, we can’t let this happen here,” Greenpeace activists, and Jordanian and Japanese students observed a minute’s silence for the victims of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster that hit Japan on March 11 last year.

During the vigil, organised by Greenpeace Jordan at the Amman Citadel, the activists and students said they wanted to highlight the Fukushima tragedy and remind the government about the dangers of nuclear power.

“We are here to show our support to the people of Japan on this sad day. We stand together to say ‘no more Fukushimas’ and to call for the protection of our future,” Greenpeace Jordan Representative Amr Al Musa said at the vigil.

Participants also released sky lanterns to commemorate the victims of the earthquake and tsunami.

On March 11, 2011, a 9.0-magnitude earthquake caused the loss of external power at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant and its six reactors. The subsequent tsunami flooded the plant’s back-up diesel generators, causing complete loss of power and leading to a failure of the cooling system.

The disaster was rated level seven, which is the highest rating on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale. Radioactive caesium sent into the atmosphere was equivalent to 168 Hiroshima bombs, according to a Greenpeace statement.

Manami Suzuki, a Japanese student who participated in the vigil, said nuclear power plants are unsafe and called on Jordanians to stand against their establishment.

“I’m happy that everyone is praying for us and I hope that Jordanians say no to nuclear power plants,” Suzuki told The Jordan Times.

More than 150,000 people fled the contaminated areas up to 50 kilometres around the Fukushima plant. The 20-kilometre evacuation zone is still off-limits and experts expect it will be uninhabitable for decades, Greenpeace said.

“We stand in solidarity with the residents of the area whose homes and lands have been contaminated by the nuclear meltdown and who face uncertainty concerning their personal health and that of their children,” Greenpeace Arab World Communications Director Raefah Makki said.

The Kingdom’s nuclear power programme, which calls for the establishment of a 1,000-megawatt nuclear reactor by the end of the next decade, entails the construction of up to four plants to produce over half the country’s electricity needs.

The country’s first nuclear power plant is to be operated under a public-private partnership, a joint venture under which the government would own a 26 to 51 per cent equity share in the power plant.

“Jordan must never experience the same. There is no such thing as a safe reactor,” Makki stressed.

Also on Sunday, the Japanese embassy in Amman organised a ceremony to commemorate the first anniversary of the disaster.

During the event, Japanese Ambassador Junichi Kosuge voiced his appreciation for Jordan’s support to Japan in the aftermath of the disaster.

“I would like to renew my prayers for the happiness of the disaster victims, and my heartfelt gratitude to the government and people of Jordan,” he said.