Chief temple priest of Fukui Prefecture speaks out against nuclear reactor restarts
The myth about the safety of nuclear energy did not collapse with the Fukushima accident. It had already collapsed when nuclear plants were forced on isolated villages in various parts of Japan because there was the understanding that those plants were dangerous facilities that could not be built close to major urban centers.
Tetsuen Nakajima: Japan must thoroughly re-examine nuclear energy policy THE ASAHI SHIMBUN 16 June 12, When I was a student, I was only interested in literature and the arts. Then in 1963, a friend took me to a peace march against nuclear weapons.
There I met a hibakusha who had been exposed to radiation after the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. He had returned to Hiroshima
from the war front and he told me about a poem he created in which he
spoke about leaving for war prepared to die, only to return and be
stricken by radiation sickness. He wrote in the poem that he had to
hide his condition because of concerns about discrimination and
prejudice toward those with illnesses caused by radiation.
I was deeply moved by the internal conflict that he felt and became
involved in the peace movement.
The dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki came at the
end of a war that was carried out as national policy.
Last year, the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant
came at the end of promoting nuclear energy that was also considered
To me, those two occurrences overlap. Neither happened overnight.
There is a need for a sense of history that allows us to reflect on
why these two phenomena occurred.
If a hasty resumption of operations at the Oi nuclear power plant is allowed, that could lead to a “second Fukushima” accident.
Only after that happens will the people in the nuclear energy village finally give up on their policy of promoting nuclear energy. Many
people have still not reached a point of making a clear decision to
move away from nuclear energy.
However, it would be too late if everyone were to repent only after a
second Fukushima accident took place.
The myth about the safety of nuclear energy did not collapse with the Fukushima accident. It had already collapsed when nuclear plants were forced on isolated villages in various parts of Japan because there was the understanding that those plants were dangerous facilities that
could not be built close to major urban centers.
Local governments that did accept the nuclear plants had their sense
of ethics toward future generations paralyzed by the money that flowed
in and had an effect like drugs. In that sense, those governments were
victims who were trampled on by the gigantic nuclear energy promotion
One part of the ethics that is taught in Buddhism is to learn about
the pain and suffering of others and accept that as one’s own. In that
sense, people should not pursue their own happiness by having others
I believe true discussions on moving away from a dependence on nuclear
energy can only begin after there is a comprehensive and fundamental
reflection of the entire framework covering energy policy and the
social system of mass production and mass consumption.
(This article was compiled from an interview by Kentaro Isomura.)
* * *
Tetsuen Nakajima is chief priest of Myotsuji temple in Obama, Fukui
Prefecture. He has been involved in providing support to Hiroshima
hibakusha as well as the anti-nuclear movement for the Wakasa Bay area
in Fukui Prefecture.
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