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Japan's final nuclear reactor switched off

People hold up signs reading, 'No Nukes' as the last of Japan's 50 nuclear reactors was shut down on Sunday, May 5, 2012.

May 5, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
For the first time in four decades, Japan is without electricity from nuclear power.

Sunday, the last of the country's 50 nuclear reactors was shut down for mandatory routine maintenance. Since last year's earthquake and tsunami triggered meltdowns of the Fukushima Dai-chi plant, no nuclear reactor in Japan has been restarted after being shut down for checkups.

Thousands of Japanese marched to celebrate the switching off of the Tomari nuclear plant on the northern island of Hokkaido. The event fell on the same day as Children's Day in Japan, and anti-nuclear activists say that's fitting because they're concerned about protecting children from radiation.

Not everyone is happy to see the plant shut off. The town's mayor called it "extremely regrettable."

Some people want the plants back on 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.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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