TOKYO (AP) — For the first time in four decades, Japan is without electricity from nuclear power.
The last of the country's 50 nuclear reactors has been shut down for what's described as mandatory routine maintenance. But since last year's earthquake and tsunami led to meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-ichi (foo-koo-SHEE'-mah dy-EE'-chee) plant, no nuclear reactor in Japan has been restarted after being shut down for a checkup.
Thousands of Japanese marched today to celebrate the switching off of the Tomari nuclear plant on the northern island of Hokkaido (hoh-ky-doh). The event coincides with Children's Day in Japan, and anti-nuclear activists say that's fitting because they're concerned about protecting children from radiation.
But the mayor of the town where the reactor was shut down calls it "extremely regrettable."
Some people want the plants back in operation because of jobs, subsidies and other benefits to the local economy.
The Japanese government has warned of blackouts and rising carbon emissions as Japan is forced to turn to oil and gas for energy.
028-c-10-(Yuri Kageyama (YOO'-ree kah-ghee-AH'-muh), AP correspondent)-"50 in Japan"-AP correspondent Yuri Kageyama reports that shutting down the plant for maintenance is a cause for celebration for those who oppose nuclear power. (5 May 2012)
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APPHOTO TOK805: Hokkaido Electric Power Co. technicians monitor operations of their power plants in the central power supply control center at the utility's headquarters in Sapporo, northern Japan, Saturday evening, May 5, 2012. No. 3 unit of Tomari Nuclear Power Plant operated by the company, Japan's last operating commercial nuclear reactor, is set to go offline Saturday night for mandatory routine maintenance, leaving the nation without atomic-generated electricity for the first time in 42 years in the wake of the quake-triggered Fukushima nuclear crisis 14 months ago. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT, NO LICENSING IN CHINA, HONG KONG, JAPAN, SOUTH KOREA AND FRANCE (5 May 2012)
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APPHOTO XITS101: Participants raise banners with a slogan, "Good bye, nuclear power station", at a rally protesting against the usage of nuclear energy in Tokyo Saturday, May 5, 2012. Thousands of Japanese marched to celebrate the last of this nation's 50 nuclear reactors switching off Saturday, shaking banners shaped as giant fish that have become a potent anti-nuclear symbol. (AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye) (5 May 2012)
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