Japan is switching on its nuclear power production today in the face of large-scale protests involving thousands of people.

In the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster in March last year, triggered by an earthquake and tsunami, the country shut down all 50 of its reactors to run safety checks.

There hasn’t been any nuclear power production in Japan since May 5 this year, but now Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has given his approval for the Oi plant in western Japan to be reactivated.

fukushima

The Fukushima disaster is considered the worst since Chernobyl

It should begin supplying electricity next Wednesday.

Mr Noda wants the reactors back online to avoid supply shortages and to keep the economy moving – it gets about 30 per cent of its electricity from nuclear energy - but many in Japan vehemently oppose the move.

Hundreds of protesters formed a blockade across the road to the Oi plant today, according to AFP.

Meanwhile, around 200,000 took part in anti-nuclear demonstrations in Tokyo on Friday, according to BBC News.

There were even protests outside Mr Noda’s official residents, with people chanting “No to nuclear restarts”.

Many of those voicing dissent believe that the Fukushima disaster should have been a catalyst for the country to explore alternative, greener forms of energy production.

Protester Taisuke Kohno, 41, told AFP: "It's a lie that nuclear energy is clean. After experiencing the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, how can Japan possibly want nuclear power?"

Another, Nobuhiko Shudo, told the BBC: “The most important thing for us is sustainability of the Earth for the next generation.”

The nuclear disaster last March is regarded as the worst since Chernobyl in 1986, with tens of thousands of people evacuated from their homes.

No one is thought to have died as a direct result of radiation poisoning, but some areas of land around the plant are considered to be too dangerous to live in for decades to come.