Don’t let ‘anti-nuke’ be just another holiday

We need to be shouting ‘No Nukes’ from the rooftops of every building every single day throughout the year.

Photo: Tsukuru Fors

The A-bomb memorial week is behind us. An inclination is to put our “No Nukes” placards away till next year, just like we put Jack-o-lanterns away on the first of November. The reality is that we need to be shouting “No Nukes” from the rooftops of every building every single day throughout the year.

I am a graduate of a high school in Hiroshima, where 350 young lives were decimated on August 6, 1945. I was born in Sasebo, Nagasaki, approximately 40 miles from Nagasaki-City where the second A-bomb was dropped. My mother was on the island of Goto at the time and witnessed heavily burned victims being evacuated from the city by boatload.

Thanks to the publicity and excitement surrounding Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer,” we are having “a moment” in the Anti-Nuclear movement. Memorial events on August 6 and 9 this year seemed a little more visible than any other year. The critical question is: How do we capitalize on this sudden surge in public attention and not let it become just a fleeting moment?

Threats we face on both fronts – nuclear weapons and nuclear power generation – require us to tackle the issue of nuclear proliferation head on, instead of treating it as “the past” and sweeping it under the rug as an inconvenient truth, or worse, accepting it as a necessary evil.

On August 9, 2023, Pacific Asian Nuclear-Free Peace Alliance and Global Candlelight Action Los Angeles co-hosted a peace memorial rally in front of the Consulate General of Japan in downtown Los Angeles.

The rally was dual purpose, with one being equally important as the other; we were there to remember the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, along with the “Global Hibakusha,” victims of ALL nuclear atrocities in the world, as well as to protest TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) and the government of Japan’s planned dumping of radioactive wastewater from the now-defunct Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the Pacific Ocean.

Photo: Tsukuru Fors

In any ordinary year, protesting in front of the Japanese consulate on the anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki could be seen as inappropriate. However, this year we felt that such a demonstration was necessary.

There are more than 1.3 million metric tons of radioactive wastewater stored in approximately 1,000 tanks on site since the 2011 accident. If they are allowed to proceed with the dumping, it will continue for the next 30-40 years.

Many world-renowned experts in the field have pointed out inadequacy of TEPCO’s data sampling and analysis. To list just a few, out of 64 radionuclides in the water, TEPCO routinely samples only 7. Sampling is always done from the surface of the tank and never from the bottom where the sludges are; meaning that we don’t know how effective TEPCO’s filtering system operates with the sludges.

Tritium is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen that the system cannot filter out. As long as it is outside of a human body, it is relatively safe, for it emits beta radiation which cannot penetrate skin. Once it enters a body, though, as what’s called Organically Bound Tritium (OBT), it can damage cells and DNA.

TEPCO’s analysis does not take into consideration such factors as transboundary effects and bioaccumulation/bioconcentration. A 2012 study detected bluefin tuna migrating from Japan to California all the way across the Pacific Ocean. Fukushima radiation has been present on the West Coast of the United States since 2015. Bioaccumulation/bioconcentration refers to the fact that the higher up you go in the food chain, the higher the concentration of radionuclides becomes.

Moreover, TEPCO has admitted that only 30% of “treated/filtered” water meets the international regulatory standards for discharge into the ocean; the rest, 70%, exceeds the regulatory standards.

The people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were victims of not only the war crime committed by the U.S. but also of state violence committed by Imperial Japan against its own people.

The bottom line is: the release of such a huge amount of contaminated water for such a prolonged period is unprecedented, and there are so many unknowns with TEPCO/Japan’s plan. Proceeding with the dumping based on the assumed safety is inadvisable.

Despite the voices of concerns from local fishermen and neighboring nations, the dumping is scheduled to take place sometime later this month, after the trilateral summit between the U.S., South Korea, and Japan to be held in or near Washington, D.C., either on August 17 or 18. At the summit, President Biden, South Korean President Yoon, and Japanese Prime Minister Kishida are to “agree” on the dumping, and the date of the first dumping is to be decided.

Spending my formative years in Hiroshima with classmates whose families were directly affected by the A-bomb and teachers who were survivors themselves, I have become convinced that the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were victims of not only the war crime committed by the U.S. but also of state violence committed by Imperial Japan against its own people.

Imperial Japan was a crazed, hungry beast who cared about nothing but feeding its own greed and thirst for power. It colonized, enslaved, and inflicted unspeakable harm on the people of many Asian nations. It forced well over 100,000 Okinawans to sacrifice their lives for the emperor. Let it be known that out of more than 200,000 people who perished in four months following the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, an estimated ten percent were people of Korean descent; many of them had been brought from the Korean Peninsula to be forced laborers in Japan.

The dumping of radioactive wastewater from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant is akin to Japan committing a nuclear atrocity against the world. The government of Japan has never properly acknowledged senseless killings, slavery, rape, and human experiment that Imperial Japanese Army committed during WWII. By releasing the contaminated water, it is perpetuating the legacy of nuclear colonialism. As a person of Japanese descent whose life has been touched by both the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I shall not rest until a nuclear-free world is achieved. 350 girls from my school in Hiroshima and the late Michiko Kato, a fellow anti-nuclear activist and Fukushima evacuee who fell victim to ovarian cancer in 2020 won’t let me.

Source: LA Progressive


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