Japan: Mayor of Nagasaki also calls for abolition of nuclear weapons & reliance on nuclear power Print E-mail

 Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Nagasaki urges nuke policy shift on anniversary

Kyodo

Scroll down to also read  "66 Years Ago: The Crime of Nagasaki - The 'Forgotten' A-Bomb City"

NAGASAKI: Mayor Tomihisa Taue urged the government Tuesday to shift its energy policy away from nuclear power due to "the fear of radiation" on the 66th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of the city.

Taue also asked U.S. President Barack Obama to exert leadership to realize a world without nuclear weapons during the ceremony, which was attended for the first time by a U.S. government envoy. Prime Minister Naoto Kan, meanwhile, pledged to rethink the country's energy policy from scratch.

Taue's call for an end to nuclear power compares with the stance taken by Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui, who stopped short of explicitly voicing his opinion on nuclear plants in his peace declaration at the Hiroshima event three days ago.

"We were astounded" by the severity of the unfolding crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant, Taue, 54, said in the peace declaration he read out at Peace Park in front of about 6,000 participants.

"It is necessary to promote the development of renewable energies in place of nuclear power," Taue said.

Representatives of a record-high 44 countries, including James Zumwalt, deputy chief of the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, attended the ceremony, which was broadcast live via the Internet for the first time.

Zumwalt, who became the first U.S. government envoy to take part in the ceremony, told reporters, in Japanese, "I hope that today's attendance of a U.S. government representative will clearly show President Obama's vision" for a world free of nuclear weapons.

U.S. Ambassador to Japan John Roos attended the atomic-bomb ceremony in Hiroshima last year but was absent from the Nagasaki ceremony, citing scheduling difficulties.

Taue said, "We call for U.S. President Obama to demonstrate his leadership toward realizing a world without nuclear weapons, and to never disappoint the people in the atomic-bombed cities or anywhere throughout the world."

Taue also urged the United States and Russia not to backpedal on their commitment earlier this year to reducing nuclear weapons. "No significant progress has been observed since. In fact, there has even been a regressive trend, such as the implementation of new nuclear simulation tests."
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Thursday, August 11, 2011

EDITORIAL

New dimension in peace appeal

The peace declaration read aloud by Mayor Tomihisa Taue of Nagasaki on Tuesday, the 66th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of the city, is a strong call for abolition of nuclear weapons as well ending reliance on nuclear power. Japanese as well as foreign leaders should carefully read his declaration and seriously consider the threats and dangers brought about by human efforts to make use of nuclear fission, whether it is for military or commercial purposes.

Mayor Taue's declaration directly goes to the issue currently gripping Japan ­ the accidents at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plants, which were damaged by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Mayor Taue starts his declaration by saying, "This March we were astounded by the severity of accidents at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station."

He goes on to say, "There is no telling when those who have been evacuated because of the radiation can return home" ­ a point the government and Tepco will not admit but many people, including evacuees, must be discerning in view of the fact that the end of the nuclear fiasco is out of sight.

Putting the Fukushima nuclear crisis in a larger context of Japanese modern history, the mayor says, "As the people of a nation that has experienced nuclear devastation, we continued the plea of 'No More Hibakusha (the surviving victims of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings).'

"How has it happened that we are threatened once again by the fear of radiation?"

Some people may think that the logic of his statement is strange. But the statement is meaningful in that it reminds us that Japan took nuclear power generation for granted for a long time and did not pay enough attention to the risks and dangers it posed.

Such risks and dangers clearly exist because nuclear plants in Japan are susceptible to severe accidents due to the activities of four tectonic plates under or near the Japanese archipelago.

The Nagasaki mayor gets to the nub of a problem that the Fukushima nuclear fiasco has exposed to Japanese or humankind for that matter ­ human hubris involved in the pursuit of technology.

He asks: "Have we lost our awe of nature? Have we become overconfident in the control that we wield as human beings?

"Have we turned away from our responsibility for the future?"

His peace declaration clearly shows that the Fukushima crisis has forced him to consider phasing out or abolishing nuclear power generation as a logical path Japan must pursue.

"Now is the time to discuss thoroughly and choose what kind of society we will create from this point on. No matter how long it will take it is necessary to promote the development of renewable energies in place of nuclear power in a bid to transform ourselves into a society with a safer energy base," he says.

His call is quite reasonable in light of the severity of the Fukushima nuclear crisis. It also must be noted that the mayor is realistic as shown by his statement that he realizes that the replacement of nuclear power with renewable energies will not be achieved in a short time.

His statement is much more direct compared with Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui's in his peace declaration on Saturday. The latter said that the government should "quickly review our energy policies" in view of opinions seeking to abandon nuclear power altogether and opinions advocating strict control of nuclear power and increased use of renewable energy.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan should seriously take the calls by both mayors and make utmost efforts to present a clear road map to realize his goal of creating a "society free from dependence on nuclear power."

The Nagasaki mayor makes a forceful call for the abolition of nuclear weapons by saying, "Now seeing how the radiation released by an accident at just a single nuclear power station is causing such considerable confusion in society, we can clearly understand how inhumane it is to attack people with nuclear weapons."

His call for people to use their imagination concerning the damage caused by a "nuclear weapon hundreds of times more powerful than the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs" appears effective. He vividly explains how the detonation of a modern nuclear weapon creates intense heat rays that can "melt" people and anything else nearby, as well as produce blast winds that can "fling" buildings.

He says: "Even if there were survivors, the intense radioactivity would prevent any rescue efforts. Radioactive substances would be carried far away by the winds to all corners of the world," causing widespread environmental contamination and health effects that would continue for generations.

Mayor Taue correctly points out that since the conclusion of a U.S.-Russia agreement to reduce nuclear weapons, no significant progress for a "world without nuclear weapons" as advocated by U.S. President Barack Obama has been observed.

The responsibility of the United States, Russia, Britain, China and France with regard to the abolition of nuclear weapons is especially heavy.

Speaking in concrete terms is the mayor's strength. He calls on the government to make efforts toward turning the three-point nuclear principle into law and the creation of a Northeast Asia Nuclear Weapons-Free Zone.

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 August 9 2011

66 Years Ago: The Crime of Nagasaki -- The 'Forgotten' A-Bomb City

By Greg Mitchell

Few journalists bother to visit Nagasaki, even though it is one of only two cities in the world to "meet the atomic bomb," as some of the survivors of that experience, 66 years ago today, put it. It remains the Second City, and "Fat Man" the forgotten bomb. No one in America ever wrote a bestselling book called Nagasaki, or made a film titled Nagasaki, Mon Amour. "We are an asterisk," Shinji Takahashi, a sociologist in Nagasaki, once told me, with a bitter smile. "The inferior A-Bomb city."

Yet in many ways, Nagasaki is the modern A-Bomb city, the city with perhaps the most meaning for us today. For one thing, when the plutonium bomb exploded above Nagasaki it made the uranium-type bomb dropped on Hiroshima obsolete.

And then there's this. "The rights and wrongs of Hiroshima are debatable," Telford Taylor, the chief prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials, once observed, "but I have never heard a plausible justification of Nagasaki" -- which he labeled a war crime. Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., who experienced the firebombing of Dresden at close hand, said much the same thing. "The most racist, nastiest act by this country, after human slavery, was the bombing of Nagasaki," he once said. "Not of Hiroshima, which might have had some military significance. But Nagasaki was purely blowing away yellow men, women, and children. I'm glad I'm not a scientist because I'd feel so guilty now."

A beautiful city dotted with palms largely built on terraces surrounding a deep harbor--the San Francisco of Japan -- Nagasaki has a rich, bloody history, as any reader of Shogun knows. Three centuries before Commodore Perry came to Japan, Nagasaki was the country's gateway to the west. The Portuguese and Dutch settled here in the 1500s. St. Francis Xavier established the first Catholic churches in the region in 1549, and Urakami, a suburb of Nagasaki, became the country's Catholic center. Thomas Glover, one of the first English traders here, supplied the modern rifles that helped defeat the Tokugawa Shogunate in the 19th century.

Glover's life served as a model for the story of Madame Butterfly, and Nagasaki is known in many parts of the world more for Butterfly than for the bomb. In Puccini's opera, Madame Butterfly, standing on the veranda of Glover's home overlooking the harbor (see left), sings, "One fine day, we'll see a thread of smoke arising.... " If she could have looked north from the Glover mansion, now Nagasaki's top tourist attraction, on August 9, 1945, she would have seen, two miles in the distance, a thread of smoke with a mushroom cap.

By 1945, Nagasaki had become a Mitsubishi company town, turning out ships and armaments for Japan's increasingly desperate war effort. Few Japanese soldiers were stationed here, and only about 250 of them would perish in the atomic bombing. It was still the Christian center in the country, with more than 10,000 Catholics among its 250,000 residents. Most of them lived in the outlying Urakami district, the poor part of town, where a magnificent cathedral seating 6000 had been built.

At 11:02 a.m. on August 9, 1945, "Fat Man" was detonated more than a mile off target, almost directly over the Urakami Cathedral, which was nearly leveled, killing dozens of worshippers waiting for confession. Concrete roads in the valley literally melted.

While Urakami suffered, the rest of the city caught a break. The bomb's blast boomed up the valley destroying everything in its path but didn't quite reach the congested harbor or scale the high ridge to the Nakashima valley. Some 35,000 perished instantly, with another 50,000 or more fated to die afterwards. The plutonium bomb hit with the force of 22 kilotons, almost double the uranium bomb's blast in Hiroshima.

If the bomb had exploded as planned, directly over the Mitsubishi shipyards, the death toll in Nagasaki would have made Hiroshima, in at least one important sense, the Second City. Nothing would have escaped, perhaps not even the most untroubled conscience half a world away.

Hard evidence to support a popular theory that the chance to "experiment" with the plutonium bomb was the major reason for the bombing of Nagasaki remains sketchy but still one wonders (especially when visiting the city, as I recount in my new book) about the overwhelming, and seemingly thoughtless, impulse to automatically use a second atomic bomb even more powerful than the first.

Criticism of the attack on Nagasaki has centered on the issue of why Truman did not step in and stop the second bomb after the success of the first to allow Japan a few more days to contemplate surrender before targeting another city for extinction. In addition, the U.S. knew that its ally, the Soviet Union, would join the war within hours, as previously agreed, and that the entrance of Japan's most hated enemy, as much as the Hiroshima bomb, would likely speed the surrender ("fini Japs" when the Russians declare war, Truman had predicted in his diary). If that happened, however, it might cost the U.S. in a wider Soviet claim on former Japanese conquests in Asia. So there was much to gain by getting the war over before the Russians advanced. Some historians have gone so far as state that the Nagasaki bomb was not the last shot of World War II but the first blow of the Cold War.

Whether this is true or not, there was no presidential directive specifically related to dropping the second bomb. The atomic weapons in the U.S. arsenal, according to the July 2, 1945 order, were to be used "as soon as made ready," and the second bomb was ready within three days of Hiroshima. Nagasaki was thus the first and only victim of automated atomic warfare.

In one further irony, Nagasaki was not even on the original target list for A-bombs but was added after Secretary of War Henry Stimson objected to Kyoto. He had visited Kyoto himself and felt that destroying Japan's cultural capital would turn the citizens against America in the aftermath. Just like that, tens of thousands in one city were spared and tens of thousands of others elsewhere were marked for death.

General Leslie Groves, upon learning of the Japanese surrender offer after the Nagasaki attack, decided that the "one-two" strategy had worked, but he was pleased to learn the second bomb had exploded off the mark, indicating "a smaller number of casualties than we had expected." But as historian Martin Sherwin has observed, "If Washington had maintained closer control over the scheduling of the atomic bomb raids the annihilation of Nagasaki could have been avoided." Truman and others simply did not care, or to be charitable, did not take care.

That's one reason the US suppressed all film footage shot in Nagasaki and Hiroshima for decades (which I probe in the new book Atomic Cover-up).

After hearing of Nagasaki, however, Truman quickly ordered that no further bombs be used without his express permission, to give Japan a reasonable chance to surrender--one bomb, one city, and seventy thousand deaths too late. When they'd learned of the Hiroshima attack, the scientists at Los Alamos generally expressed satisfaction that their work had paid off. But many of them took Nagasaki quite badly. Some would later use the words "sick" or "nausea" to describe their reaction.

As months and then years passed, few Americans denounced as a moral wrong the targeting of entire cities for extermination. General Dwight D. Eisenhower, however, declared that we never should have hit Japan "with that awful thing." The leftwing writer Dwight MacDonald cited America's "decline to barbarism" for dropping "half-understood poisons" on a civilian population. His conservative counterpart, columnist and magazine editor David Lawrence, lashed out at the "so-called civilized side" in the war for dropping bombs on cities that kill hundreds of thousands of civilians. However much we rejoice in victory, he wrote, "we shall not soon purge ourselves of the feeling of guilt which prevails among us.... What a precedent for the future we have furnished to other nations even less concerned than we with scruples or ideals! Surely we cannot be proud of what we have done. If we state our inner thoughts honestly, we are ashamed of it."

Greg Mitchell's new book and e-book is "Atomic Cover-Up: Two U.S. Soldiers, Hiroshima & Nagasaki, and The Greatest Movie Never Made." Email: