Australians Remember Fukushima Disaster

Posted March 11th, 2012 at 3:15 pm (UTC-5)
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Hundreds of anti-nuclear protesters held rallies across Australia Sunday to mark the first anniversary of Japan's devastating earthquake and tsunami.

The rallies in Sydney, Melbourne and other cities also were part of a national day of action to end uranium mining in Australia.

Sydney's march took place near the Australian headquarters of two global mining giants, BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto. The protests included speeches and performances by Japanese expatriates and Australia's indigenous communities, worried about the effects of mining near tribal lands.

The participants held a moment of silence for the victims of Japan's disaster.

In a statement Sunday, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard praised the Japanese people for their resilience and courage, but said the anniversary would be a “day of painful memories for them.”

She was the first foreign leader to visit the disaster zone.

The Australian Conservation Foundation demands a review of the costs and consequences of the country's uranium trade and says Australia must abandon its uranium exports.

Although Australia does not use nuclear power, it is the world's third-largest uranium producer — behind Kazakhstan and Canada. Last year, Canberra exported almost 7,000 tons of uranium oxide concentrate , worth more than $1.2 billion.

According to Australia's Department of Resources, the country also has the world's largest uranium reserves, about 46 percent of the global total.