Since the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant began, I have wondered constantly, “What mistakes did we make, where did we make them, and why?” I have thought not just about factors directly related to the nuclear plant, such as its location or safety, but also about possible causes in our society or ways of thinking. One of them is the problem of myths.
The myth that nuclear plants are completely safe has crumbled because of the Fukushima plant disaster. However, Hiroshima and Nagasaki have been fighting with a different myth for over half a century: that the United States was justified in dropping the atomic bombs because they saved more lives than they took. Journalist Akira Naka shows that this myth is not based in fact in his book “Mokusatsu” (Ignore by silence), but it is nonetheless still vigorously propagated.
Even in America, when you present the facts, many people agree that nuclear bombs are immoral and should not have been used against Japan. That is exactly why Hiroshima and Nagasaki have steadily continued holding exhibits on the bombs around the world. This year, we will set up a new Hiroshima-Nagasaki corner at the United Nations Office in Geneva. We’ve also started a project where we’re offering materials via the Internet so that anyone can set up a small A-bomb exhibit in places like community halls or schools.
There are other myths: the myth that there is no way nuclear weapons will be used again, and the myth that Japan will certainly never possess a nuclear weapon. It is because these are myths that Nagasaki will once again, in its peace declaration this year, call for an end to nuclear weapons, the creation of a non-nuclear zone covering northeast Asia, and enshrining Japan’s three non-nuclear principles in law.
Both Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui and I were born after the war. It is precisely because we are in an age populated primarily by people who did not experience the war or the bombs that we, together with the few A-bomb survivors who remain, must spread the truth to prevent a repeat of past mistakes. (By Tomihisa Taue, mayor of Nagasaki)