Photo/Illutration Journalist Satoshi Kamata speaks at a news conference on Nov. 11 when the last batch of signatures in an anti-nuclear petition drive was submitted to the economy ministry. (Hideki Motoyama)

An anti-nuclear petition drive begun 11 and a half years ago garnered an impressive 8,831,163 signatures, with the final ones delivered to the economy ministry on Nov. 11.

Journalist Satoshi Kamata, one of the driving forces behind the campaign that started soon after the March 2011 triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, met with reporters after submitting the last batch of signed names.

“After 11 years, the government is now trying to turn back the clock to nuclear power,” Kamata said. “While we will temporarily stop the petition drive, we also want to spread the anti-nuclear movement by joining forces with those promoting renewable energy sources.”

The petition drive started in June 2011 with a goal of reaching 10 million signatures. Although it fell short, the last batch of 19,000 or so signatures submitted Nov. 11 brought the total to 8,831,163.

The petition makes three specific demands: suspending plans to construct new nuclear plants and decommissioning existing plants; mothballing a facility designed to reprocess spent nuclear fuel; and converting the nation’s energy policy to one centered on natural energy sources.

Among those who helped organize the petition drive are musician Ryuichi Sakamoto, Nobel Prize laureate Kenzaburo Oe and writers Keiko Ochiai and Hisae Sawaichi.

Due to the duration of the drive, a number of the initial champions of the movement have since died. They include writers Jakucho Setouchi and Takashi Tsujii, economic commentator Katsuto Uchihashi and philosopher Shunsuke Tsurumi.