Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda announced that he had approved the restarting of two nuclear reactors to avoid an imminent energy crisis.
All fifty of the country's reactors were shut down following the meltdown at Fukushima. Before that, atomic energy produced nearly thirty percent of Japan's electricity.
Despit recent surveys showing most people in Japan want to abandon atomic energy, the prime minister said he had no choice – parts of the country are facing a severe power shortage.
After the prime minister's announcement, thousands of angry protesters gathered outside Noda’s official residence to show their discontent.
Ministers say the alternative to nuclear energy, fossil fuels, would drive up electricity bills, harm small businesses and still leave a severe power deficit.
Noda is hoping that the promise of tougher safety measures will help avoid another Fukushima – but many do not agree with his decision.
Al Jazeera's Dominic Kane reports.