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VOX POPULI: Shame on you, prime minister, for your blatant about-face

JR Namie Station, upper right, in Fukushima Prefecture is surrounded by vacant land in March 2019, after homes and shops damaged by the 2011 nuclear disaster were demolished.

December 24, 2022

Mariko Sato of the town of Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, said in March 2011: “Explosions at the nuclear power plant have forced me to evacuate twice already. What’s going to happen in the days ahead?”

“I’ve lived a bit too long. I saw something I didn’t want to see,” noted 102-year-old Fumio Okubo in April before he took his own life in front of his home in the village of Iitate.

One year later, 6-year-old Toya Matsuoka spoke of his dream: “I want to be rich when I grow up. I’m going to buy a big house that won’t be washed away by tsunami, so my entire family can live there.”

And Kunio Omori, 81, recalled his temporary return to his home in the town of Tomioka: “There were beautifully ripe, yellow fruits on apricot trees in my yard. But I couldn’t even pick them, let alone eat.”

Those are among comments by Fukushima residents who survived the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 2011 that triggered a nuclear disaster to tell their stories to The Asahi Shimbun.

Trying to remember what kind of future our nation sought back then, I re-read the clippings, placed side by side on my desk with stories that ran in yesterday’s paper.

And I was overcome with shocked disbelief: How could anyone completely forget something of such magnitude after only 11 years?

The Kishida administration on Dec. 23 announced a new policy to make “maximum use” of nuclear power.

The government will proceed with the hitherto “unanticipated” reconstruction of old facilities, will consider building new facilities and extend the life span of reactors to beyond 60 years.

The about-face is so total, I feel cheated.

And yet, the language of the new policy is shamelessly replete with lofty “assurances” such as, “Fukushima’s reconstruction is the basis on which (the nation’s) energy policy is to be pursued” and “the sobering lessons we learned from the accident will never be forgotten, not even for a second.”

A guilty heart is said to turn one’s ears red. And that is why the kanji for “haji” (shame) is made up of two radicals that stand for “ear” and “heart,” according to kanji scholar Shizuka Shirakawa (1910-2006), the author of “Joyo Jikai” (translated into English as The Keys to the Chinese Characters).

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida boasts about his “ability to listen.” I wonder if his new energy policy has made his ears turn red, even if for just a second.

If not, it’s just too sad.

January 5, 2023 - Posted by | Fuk 2022, Fuk 2023 | ,

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