TOKYO (majirox news) — Thousands of farmers demonstrated on Aug. 12 in Tokyo, seeking to put pressure on Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) to pay them compensation. The farmers’ products were affected by Japan’s nuclear crisis at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, following the earthquake and tsunami on March 11. TEPCO is the owner and operator of the Fukushima Daiichi plant.
In Hibiya Park, around 2,500 people rallied, waving banners with slogans such as, “Pay Us Now” and “Give Us a Future.”
“The Tohoku people have strong endurance, but we have reached our limit, our boiling point,” said Tokuichi Atsujo, chairman of the Agriculture Group (AG) branch in Fukushima. The demonstrators were supported by the AG.
Atsujo added that TECPO needs to pay more compensation to the victims of the disaster, including the members of the Farmers and Fisheries Union. They have only received a small part of the compensation they are owed and are demanding more.
“TEPCO has advanced the disaster victims only part of the compensation, but it is not enough,” Atsujo said.
The farmers cannot sell their products due to rumors that their products are contaminated with cesium. Some of the beef from the disaster areas were found to be contaminated with cesium that rained into the rice straw that the animals were fed. The government has restricted the sale of some vegetables, dairy products, river fish and other produce and continues to test rice fields and wheat in some prefectures.
The Japanese remain concerned about the safety of the country’s food while demand for the Farmers and Fisheries Union’s produce has decreased.
“The decontamination process has also been delayed,” Atsujo said at the rally.
Watanabe Kozo, a Democratic Party of Japan representative from the Fukushima area, said, “I apologize to all of you for these problems. In the near future we will form a new Cabinet and make it possible to get your requests.”
Prime Minister Naoto Kan may step down at the end of August.
The protesting farmers erupted in loud applause after Kozo’s remarks.