Massive Environmental Demonstrations Rock China and Japan
Massive demonstrations have taken place this week in China and Japan, and at least in China, people power won the day.
China's Industrial Waste Pipeline
Earlier in July of this year, in the city of Shifang, plans for a copper plant were dropped after many thousands of protesters clashed with Chinese riot police. This past week, in eastern China where a huge paper mill was set to become fully operational, as many as 100,00 demonstrators rioted against a pipeline from the mill which would dump as much as 150,000 tons of industrial waste per day into the port of Lusi, a coastal fishing community just north of Shanghai.
In response to the massive demonstrations, officials canceled the pipeline project after demonstrators occupied government offices, trashed computers, threw documents out of windows to the cheers of the crowd, and overturned police cars. There is rising anger throughout China as the country's pollution problems reach epic proportions. Jeffrey Wasserman, of the University of California Irvine told Reuters that the protests "suggest that the middle class, whose members seemed willing to accept in the 1990's that being able to buy more things equaled having a better life, are now wondering whether one's quality of life has improved, if you have to worry about breathing the air, drinking the water,and whether the food you're eating is safe."
No to Nukes in Japan
In Japan yesterday, July 28, 2011, tens of thousands of people took to the streets and formed a human chain surrounding the parliament building to demand the government abandon nuclear power. Demonstrations have been ongoing since May, which is rare for this country, where people usually do not demonstrate. Despite overwhelming public opinion, the government has allowed shut down nuclear plants to come back on line.
Demonstrating on many fronts
Demonstrations of this scope and magnitude have not been seen in Japan since the 1960s, and they are occurring not only in Tokyo, but in many other cities throughout the country.
"We are here to oppose nuclear power, which is simply too dangerous," said Hiroko Yamada, a woman in her eighties. Shoji Kitano, 64, a retired math teacher, was wearing a sign that read "No to Nukes." He remarked that "all these people have gotten together and are raising their voices."
The government, however, seems not to be listening.
Link: Despite Widespread Protest, Nuclear Power Back on Line in Japan
All photos from commondreams.org