USA | From Hiroshima to Fukushima

Posted on August 5, 2011



Saturday marks the 66th anniversary of the first dropping of the nuclear bomb on Hiroshima—and the first one since the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident.

Anti-nuclear power activists will use the annual Peace Ceremony in Hiroshima to try and draw parallels between the two. “Once there is radiation, they (nuclear weapons and power plants) are the same,” said Naruaki Kuno, spokesman of the Hiroshima-area group, “People Who Want to Live Without Nuclear Power Plants.” The group hopes to gather 1,000 people to protest at the headquarters of the regional utility, Chugoku Electric Power Co., after the Peace Ceremony. Chugoku Electric currently has two working nuclear reactors, one under construction, and plans to build two more after that.

Local officials aren’t ready to go as far as the protesters.

Every year, the Hiroshima city mayor delivers a Peace Declaration following a minute-long silence at 8:15 a.m., the time when the U.S. dropped “Little Boy,” the four-ton uranium bomb.

This year’s speech by newly elected Mayor Kazumi Matsui has been much anticipated because he is the city’s first mayor born after 1945, and the son of an A-bomb survivor. At a news conference Tuesday, Mr. Matsui announced the outline of his speech. Despite appeals from anti-nuke power groups, the remarks will not include a specific request to the Japanese government to move away from nuclear energy. Instead Mr. Matsui will say: “there are people who seek an end to nuclear energy.” Mr. Matsui said he chose this wording because Hiroshima city citizens remain divided on the topic.

Taking advantage of Japanese grammar that permits vague phraseology, Mr. Matsui intends to use a line once used by the late Ichiro Moritaki, the former head of The Japan Congress Against A- and H-Bombs (Gensuikin). The quote is: “humankind and nuclear (kaku) cannot coexist.”

In post-war Japan, the word “kaku,” or “nuclear,” has generally referred to nuclear weapons. But a representative of the late Mr. Moritaki’s group, who declined to be named, says there is disagreement among the public on whether the term, particularly in Mr. Moritaki’s quote, also references nuclear energy.

Mr. Kuno, from the anti-reactor group, says that he and 14 others submitted a formal letter to the city government in June requesting Mayor Matsui to make an antinuclear statement. “We regret that our appeals weren’t strong enough to be reflected in the (mayor’s) speech,” he said.

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