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.

  • State of emergency as super typhoon batters Micronesia
    State of emergency as super typhoon batters Micronesia

    An emergency was declared in the Micronesian state of Chuuk Wednesday as Super Typhoon Maysak cut a destructive path across the central Pacific leaving at least five dead and extensive damage. Crops were ruined and water supplies contaminated, with fears people faced starvation if they did not get aid soon, after the violent storm took three days to cross the vast Federated States of Micronesia (FSM). "Governor Johnson Elimo declared a state of emergency (in Chuuk) due to damage by Typhoon …

  • Nissan launches its “Virtual to Reality” GT Academy here in the Philippines
    Nissan launches its “Virtual to Reality” GT Academy here in the Philippines

    The Filipino Gran Turismo gamer just became eligible to become a Pro Race Car driver as Nissan Philippines Inc. launched its GT Academy here in the Philippines. The object is to find the best Grand Turismo players in both the online qualification process and participating in the live events after which they’ll compete with each other in National Finals to see who gets to attend the 3 month Race camp.  The winner gets to stay in the UK near Silverstone and will take part in UK national and club …

  • Osmeña wants electricity exempted from VAT
    Osmeña wants electricity exempted from VAT

    Sen. Sergio Osmeña III wants electricity to be exempted from value added tax under a proposed measure that will amend the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997 and the Reformed VAT Law. He said the move aims to ease the burden of the public in paying high electricity rates in the country. “VAT on electricity is another burden on the already over-taxed shoulders of our people, especially those whose incomes are barely enough to cover their basic needs. Osmeña, chairman of the Senate …

  • No lotto draws starting tomorrow until Easter Sunday
    No lotto draws starting tomorrow until Easter Sunday

    No lotto tickets will be sold and no lotto draws made starting tomorrow, Maundy Thursday, up to Easter Sunday in observance of Holy Week. In a statement, Jose Ferdinand Rojas II, acting Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) chairman and general manager, said the selling of lotto tickets and lotto draws will resume on April 6,  Monday. “We thank all Lotto players for your trust and confidence in the PCSO games, and we count on your continued support of our efforts to raise funds for …

  • Quake rocks C. Visayas
    Quake rocks C. Visayas

    A magnitude-3.2 earthquake rocked parts of Central Visayas yesterday. State seismologists said the quake was an aftershock of a powerful tremor that hit the region in 2013. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said the quake occurred at 7:54 a.m. Its epicenter was located 10 kilometers  southeast of Buenavista, Bohol. Phivolcs director Renato Solidum said the quake was an aftershock of the magnitude-7.2 earthquake that hit Bohol on Oct. 15, 2013. …

  • Super howler nears Phl
    Super howler nears Phl

    A typhoon that has devastated islands in the Pacific is forecast to become a category 5 monster howler as it barrels toward the Philippines this week. The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said Maysak will be named Chedeng when it enters the Philippine area of responsibility tonight or tomorrow morning. In an interview, PAGASA weather forecaster Gener Quitlong said the forecast track of Maysak may still change depending on the movement of …

  • Philips Gold finally shines

    Philips Gold made 11 service aces on its way to beating Mane ‘N Tail, 25-19, 27-25, 25-16, for its first victory in the Philippine Super Liga (PSL) All-Filipino Coinference Monday night at The Arena in San Juan.Former College of St. Benilde standout Rossan Fajardo had six aces as part of her 10-point output as the Lady Slammers finally barged into the win column after losing their first two matches.Ex-National University star Myla Pablo led Philips Gold with 14 points highlighted by 12 kills, …

  • Turkish Airlines starts direct Manila-Istanbul flights 3 times a week

    Turkish Airlines, Turkey’s flag carrier, launched on March 30 its thrice weekly direct, non-stop flights between Istanbul and Manila at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 1 and plans to operate a daily service between the two cities, eventually, announced Chief Marketing Officer Ahmet Olmustur. Last November 2014, the Philippines and Turkey signed an expanded air services agreement granting Turkish carriers three frequencies per week to Manila and Clark. In accordance with …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options