Japan A-bomb survivors warn against nuclear power

The scars that still mark Sunao Tsuboi's face from the wartime bombing of Hiroshima are a grim reminder of the power of the atom as a wave of nuclear wariness sweeps post-Fukushima Japan.

Around 140,000 people perished instantly in the searing heat or from radiation in the days and months after a US plane unleashed the deadliest weapon ever used and ushered in the nuclear age.

Nearly seven decades later, Tsuboi, one of a dwindling number of survivors of the first ever atomic attack, is raising his voice against nuclear power in a country still reeling from the tsunami-sparked catastrophe of March 2011.

"In terms of being nuclear victims, we are the same," Tsuboi, 87, said of those affected by the Fukushima crisis.

He was on his way to university when the bomb exploded over Hiroshima in a flash of blinding light and intense heat on August 6, 1945.

As well as his burns, Tsuboi has also suffered intestinal cancer that may be linked to radiation exposure, and says he sees little difference in the dangers posed by atomic weapons and atomic power.

"Nuclear technology is beyond human wisdom... I still want to see a nuclear-free world while I'm alive," he said.

His appeal comes as a bitter debate swirls over the future of Japan's 50 remaining reactors, which once met around a third of the country's electricity needs, but which were shuttered following the meltdowns at Fukushima.

Fears of electricity shortages have led to the government ordering restarts at two reactors, despite an increasingly vocal anti-nuclear movement in a country largely unused to public protest.

Those who experienced the World War II bombing in Hiroshima and a similar attack on the port city of Nagasaki three days later, said television images of the Fukushima crisis brought back terrible memories.

"The TV reminded me of the dreadful scenes," said a sobbing Misako Katani, 82, one of just a few living victims who survived both bombings.

No one is officially recorded as having died as a result of the Fukushima disaster, but many who fled the area and those who remain, including workers decommissioning the crippled plant, worry about the long-term effects.

The quake-sparked tsunami knocked out the reactors' cooling systems, causing meltdowns that spread radiation over a large area and forced thousands to evacuate.

Scientists have warned it could be decades before it is safe for some people to return to their homes.

Sachiko Sato, a Fukushima evacuee who was among tens of thousands of people attending an annual Hiroshima commemoration event on Monday, said: "I think we can share the same sadness with people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

"In my mind, Fukushima is like a third nuclear victim following Hiroshima and Nagasaki."

Atom bomb survivor Toshiyuki Mimaki, 70, added: "We want to work together with people in Fukushima and join our voices in calling for no more nuclear victims."

But for some ageing victims, there are few parallels between 1945 and 2011.

"There is nothing to compare to what I experienced," said Shigeji Yonekura, 79, who was at Hiroshima.

"The atomic bomb was dropped in war and no one helped us, while the Fukushima accident occurred in peace time and a lot of people offered help."

Supporters of the nuclear attacks on Japan maintain they brought a quick end to the war by speeding up Tokyo's surrender, preventing millions more casualties from a land invasion planned for later in the year.

Despite his own experience, Yonekura is resigned to the possibility that resource-poor Japan may not be able to abandon atomic power altogether.

"Nuclear power may be a necessary evil," he said.

But Miyako Jodai, a survivor of the Nagasaki bombing, which killed 70,000 people, said the Fukushima accident and the way the crisis was managed had turned her against atomic energy.

Several reports on the accident have heaped criticism on government and plant officials, with one parliamentary probe calling Fukushima a "man-made disaster".

"I had been convinced that peaceful use of nuclear power should be accepted because reactors were safe," said Jodai.

"But after seeing the accident and the government's handling of the aftermath, I felt I was betrayed."

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Ex-Cavite governor gets PCSO top post
    Ex-Cavite governor gets PCSO top post

    After nearly a year, President Aquino finally made good his promise to a long-time ally – former Cavite governor and congressman Erineo Maliksi – to head the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO), replacing Margarita Juico who resigned in May 2014. Maliksi must be officially elected by the PCSO board members as their chairman. Prior to his appointment to the PCSO, Maliksi faced graft charges before the Sandiganbayan in connection with the alleged illegal purchase of P2.5 million worth …

  • US, Phl military exercises to focus on sea defense
    US, Phl military exercises to focus on sea defense

    A massive deployment of aircraft, personnel and warships characterizes this year’s Balikatan between the two allies, which war games were launched 30 years ago. Commander Lued Lincuna, Philippine Navy public affairs chief, said the Marine Battalion Landing Team-4 (MBLT-4) will link  up with the US 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force. …

  • P-Noy seeking united Asean stand on China
    P-Noy seeking united Asean stand on China

    With China’s actions threatening to “considerably alter the way of doing business globally,” President Aquino will ask the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to take a united stand against Beijing’s massive reclamation activities and other provocative acts in the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea. Aquino will raise the appeal to his ASEAN counterparts when they meet on April 27-28 in Kuala Lumpur and Langkawi in Malaysia. Beijing reacted immediately to the plan, saying the …

  • OIC exec backs BBL, says passage to end extremism
    OIC exec backs BBL, says passage to end extremism

    The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) yesterday backed the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), warning that failure to see the peace process through with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) could open the door to extremism. OIC secretary-general Iyad Bin Amin Madani, who is in the country to rally support for the peace process and the BBL, told reporters at the Senate yesterday that the Philippines should not waste the opportunity to attain lasting peace in Mindanao, especially …

  • Senate plan to probe corruption in judiciary opposed
    Senate plan to probe corruption in judiciary opposed

    The head of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) is opposing the plan of the Senate to investigate alleged “justice for sale” in the judiciary. In an interview yesterday, IBP national president Vicente Joyas contested the pronouncement of Senate President Franklin Drilon that the Senate Blue Ribbon committee can probe the reported corruption in the judiciary, as it remains part of the scope of the Senate’s investigative power. “The plan of the Senate to push through with the …

  • PNP: Floyd camp charging P.2 M for pay-per-view
    PNP: Floyd camp charging P.2 M for pay-per-view

    The camp of Floyd Mayweather is reportedly charging the Philippine National Police P200,000 for a pay-per-view deal of his fight with Manny Pacquiao, a PNP official said yesterday. Director Danilo Constantino, the PNP’s Chief Directorial Staff, said the cost of the pay-per-view for the fight makes it difficult for the PNP to sponsor the free viewing for its personnel and their dependents at Camp Crame’s multi-purpose center. “We are currently negotiating for the pay-per-view and we ever …

  • No disruption in gun permit issuance – PNP
    No disruption in gun permit issuance – PNP

    There has been no disruption in the issuance of permits to carry firearms outside residence (PTCFOR) since former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Alan Purisima was suspended in December 2014, an official said yesterday. PNP officer-in-charge Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina is the one signing the PTCFOR cards, PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Generoso Cerbo Jr. said. Cerbo, however, could not say when Espina started signing the cards and how many PTCFORs have …

  • HK pol calls Pinay maids ‘home wreckers’
    HK pol calls Pinay maids ‘home wreckers’

    A senior Hong Kong politician is under fire after she accused some Filipina domestic helpers of seducing their male employers, in comments branded “racist” and “offensive” by critics. There are 300,000 maids in Hong Kong, mostly from the Philippines and Indonesia, with concern growing among rights groups over their welfare following a string of abuse cases. But lawmaker Regina Ip, a close adviser to the city’s leader Leung Chun-ying and tipped as a future chief executive, cast the maids as …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options