"Shut Down The Nukes, Close The Uranium Mines"…Nuclear Free Japan?
Ten months after the March 11th Fukushima nuclear power plant triple meltdown, the Global Conference for A Nuclear Power Free World (脱原発世界会議2012 )was held on January 14 and 15th 2012 in Yokohama, Japan.
According to the organizers of the conference, over 100 people from 20 countries and more than 200 Japanese NGO participated to the Global Conference for Nuclear Power Free World in Yokohama between January 14 and 15th 2011, ten months after the big Fukushima power plant accident. As of Saturday 14th, there had been 16’600 live online viewers and over 6’427 tickets had been sold. On Saturday, over 3000 people visited the conference in Yokohama, according to organizers. The final tally will be on Monday. The conference conveyed people from different countries in the world who have experienced nuclear disasters, such as hibakusha (people who have been exposed to large amounts of nuclear radiation) or nuclear waste land residents and people who were irradiated during nuclear weapons tests. Their message was the same: “Call on your governments to shut down the nuclear power plants and uranium mines in the world.” Ten months after the meltdown of three reactors at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, many people still have a feeling that the truth has not been told and that not enough has been done. “Only a global network of experts can be sufficient to support the victims of the Fukushima accident. The world has experienced Chernobyl and now Fukushima, we have to network, share information and learn from previous mistakes”, said the chairman of the Nuclear Free World Organizing Committee, Tatsuya Yoshioka. Many people from Tohoku committed suicide after they realized their land was forever tainted. One man in the last message on he posted on his desk before he died, wrote: “If there were no nuclear power plants, if there were no nuclear power, this would not have happened”.
At the opening remarks of the conference, Japanese anti-nuclear “rebels” such as Eisaku Sato, former governor of Fukushima Prefecture gave a speech.
Eisaku Sato became governor of Fukushima Prefecture in 1988 after being elected at the Upper House in 1983. He came into disagreement with the Japanese government on nuclear power plant issues and the excess concentration of population and industry in the Tokyo Metropolitan area. He was forced to step down in 2006 and later prosecuted for corruption related to a dam construction project. Despite being found guilty, he denies all these charges and is now appealing to the Supreme Court. He has claimed that he was framed by TEPCO and their allies in the Japanese government because he raised issues about TEPCO’s lax safety practice. The courts determined that he actually received 0 yen in profits on the supposed construction fraud. One of the prosecutors in his case was later convicted for forging evidence in another criminal investigation. He said that, from his personal experience, the municipal government headquarters of Fukushima only notified the Fukushima people of the meltdown six days after then national news began to report on it. Many local communities in Japan rely heavily on the nuclear industry to provide jobs. When the city of Iwaki, in the Ibaragi prefecture went bankrupt, it was not only the famous “Hula Girls” who lifted up the local economy. They also agreed to let nuclear waste be stored there. In 2001, the Ministry of Finance was split in two, and the Ministry of Industry and Trade became unified the same year. “To promote business and industry under the same agency is just like having the police and the thieves working under the same umbrella”, Eisaku Sato said.
Mrs. Rebecca Harms, Member of the European Parliament and vice president of the Greens/EFA group, from Germany, addressed the Japanese public at the opening ceremony of the Global Conference for Nuclear Power Free World, in Yokohama. She said her country has closed eight power plants after the Fukushima accident, although Germany is currently under conservative leadership. She said that the Fukushima limited evacuation decision is “not comprehensible after the lessons learnt at Chernobyl”. Mr. Tetsunori Ida, Director of the Institute for Sustainable Energy Policy, in Japan, said that after the Three Mile Island, the Chernobyl accidents, and last year the Fukushima accident, nuclear energy was a questionable resource. He noted Japan has been shaken by the third nuclear catastrophe in its own history–Hiroshima and the Nagasaki were the first. “Japan is going through a third change in its history, after the revolution at the Meiji Period, after the Second World War and now after the Fukushima nuclear accident, we can say this: The Fukushima accident has created a Jasmine Revolution in Japan, generating public outcry and debate.”
Peter Watts, an aborigine and co-chair of The Australian Nuclear Free Alliance, said that the British government detonated a nuclear weapon on his neighboring lands in Australia in the 1950’s. Australia has four uranium mines, which is one third of the world’s total. Australia sells uranium to 15 countries, to the US, UK, France, Japan, South Korea, China, Spain, Taiwan, Sweden, Germany, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Canada and South Africa. “TEPCO has bought Australian uranium, and the particles that were spread over Japan come from Australia. We must stop uranium mining”.
Shuntaro Hida, a Japanese medical doctor and Hiroshima atomic bomb survivor has been practicing his profession until March 2011. At the age of 94, he decided to retire after 3/11 and devote his time to giving advice the Fukushima mothers and victims. Having been a medical doctor during the US occupation, he knows that the US government did not disclose information about the effects of radioactivity and therefore some information is not well known in Japan. However, Mr. Hida has been networking with the NGO called “The Bridge to Chernobyl” and its president Mrs. Noro. Together they agree that many medical symptoms that have appeared in Chernobyl children also appeared in children of Fukushima and also the Kanto area, such as nose bleeding, joints, and pain in the bones etc. However, medical doctors cannot prove that these symptoms are related to radiation, and therefore will never admit publicly that there is any link with the Fukushima meltdown. According to his experience, observing the hibakusha from the Hiroshima atomic bomb, Mr. Hida says the symptoms appear after 6 months to one year. Ever since he retired from being a medical doctor in March 2011, he has been appointed to more than 84 conferences to inform Japanese people about the effects of radiation. When asked if the Japanese government should keep the corpses of the animals that lived in the Forbidden 20km zone, Mr. Hida said: “The government should pay scientists from universities to research and study the corpses and the living beings and animals from the 20 km zone, even if it takes 10 or 20 years to conduct those efforts. These animals should not be destroyed or forgotten forever”.
Shuntaro Hida is currently 95 years and 15 days old, and is still in a good shape although he was a victim of the Hiroshima bomb, and he advises people to practice activities to stay healthy and longevity: “go to bed early (hayane), wake up early (hayaoki), get a good sleep (suimin), eat well, go to the toilet (eat a lot of fiber so that you poop regularly), play a lot, work a lot and practice good sex. Only a world without nuclear power can be a better world.” Miss Kathleen Reiley, (67) a visitor at the conference, has lived 43 years in Japan, and has been working as a volunteer councilor at the National Cancer Center Hospital in Tokyo. She said that after the Tokaimura accident in Ibaraki prefecture in 1999, she observed that she has been meeting more children with solid tumors, 3 to 4 years after the nuclear accident. She also said that the Tokaimura has the most plutonium of any of the reactors, and plutonium attacks the bones. “I have asked the authorities for investigation to understand if there is a link between the children who get bone cancer or leukemia and the place where they live, but no one replied to my demand. I heard a boy from Fukushima today say that he felt, ‘our lives and health are more important than money, I do not want to get sick”.
It is not clear that the Government of Japan feels the same way.