The police this time says 21,000 people, up 4,000 from their last week's estimate of 17,000. Organizers say 150,000, about the same level as last week. Participants (or would-have-been participants) say many more were stopped at the subway station (Kokkaigijidomae) exit and couldn't get out.
(It looks like it was one particular exit, and others were open. They could have also ridden one more station and exit from there instead.)
And even more surprising, Yomiuri Online did cover the event (I think it is the first, online), and even quoted the police number. It even has a photograph! Tide is turning! This historical coverage must be preserved... (OK, sarcasm off.)
From Yomiuri Shinbun (7/7/2012):
Anti-nuke plant protest in front of PM Official Residence, protesting against the restart of Ooi
Citizens' groups demanding the halt of operation at KEPCO Ooi Nuclear Power Plant (in Fukui Prefecture) which restarted power generation on July 5 conducted the protest action in front of the Prime Minister's Official Residence in Nagata-cho, Chiyodaku in Tokyo.
According to the Metropolitan Police, the number of participants rose to about 21,000, and there was a 800 meter-long line in front of the Official Residence. People including young people who gathered there via Twitter and Facebook messages shouted "Saikado Hantai (we're against the restart)", waving signs like "Listen to us citizens".
A small group of participants started to march toward the PM Official Residence after 8PM, the time that the protest action was scheduled to end, and there was a minor scuffle between the group and the organizers and the police, who together tried to restrain the group.
A housewife (aged 35) from Ota-ku, Tokyo who came with her two sons (aged 8 and 3) said, "[I came because] I thought I had to clearly express my view against nuclear power plants, in order to protect children."
That small group who pushed to the front after the protest hours was one of the long-time established left groups, according to the participants who witnessed the scuffle. The group, who tried to make a scene, according to the witness account, was restrained by both the organizers and the police.
If you recall, this is the newspaper who allegedly said they wouldn't cover the protest because it was against the paper's policy and stance.
So now what?
What's interesting is that more and more senior politicians are showing up at the protest. Shizuka Kamei was one example. He is the ousted former head of the ruling coalition party People's New Party, or Kokumin Shinto. Though he was ousted in the party "coup" in March this year, he seems to carry weight as an "insider". Many people know him as a former police and security official with ties to nuclear industry, making his appearance puzzling or troubling for some.
It turns out that Kamei's elder sister died of leukemia, after suffering from the radiation exposure she received in Hiroshima City when the atomic bomb detonated. Kamei said in this interview that his sister, who was in high school at that time, repeatedly went back to the city center with her classmates to help people suffering the effect of the bomb.
To be anti-nuclear or anti-restart of nuke plants may be getting to be perceived by some politicians as a vote getter. Good sign, I think.