WASHINGTON, March 12 (UPI) -- Marking the first anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, Greenpeace said it's time to phase out nuclear power to avert future disasters.
One year ago Sunday, a magnitude-9 earthquake and tsunami struck northeastern Japan and triggered a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The disaster sparked a wide examination of the safety of nuclear power.
Environmental advocacy group Greenpeace said "hundreds of millions of people" face a similar risk given that there are more than 400 nuclear reactors in service globally.
"There were always be natural disasters and we will need to live with and try to mitigate the risks but when it comes to the manmade disaster of nuclear reactors we can simply shut them down," Greenpeace said in a statement.
Japanese former Prime Minister Naoto Kan, who was in office during the disaster, writes in the journal Foreign Affairs that it's time to ban nuclear power all together, saying the risks far outweigh the benefits.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said if Tokyo does make a decision to restart nuclear power plants, his government "should make every effort" to get support from local administrations, the Kyodo news agency quoted him as saying.
The first reactor at the Fukushima plant went into service in 1970. Last year's catastrophe was the first major accident at the power plant.