For the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons

HOME >> For the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons >> Statements >> Statement Regarding the Northeast-Kanto Great Earthquake and Tsunami and the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant Disaster

March 22, 2011

Terumi Tanaka, Secretary General
Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations (Hidankyo)

As we pray that the souls of all the people who perished in the Northeast-Kanto Great Earthquake and Tsunami rest in peace, we want to express our deepest sympathies for the many victims who have lost family members, their homes, and workplaces.

Looking at the damage from the tsunami along the shoreline of the northeast, I am reminded of the tragedies of the atomic bombings that happened 66 years ago in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

On August 6th and 9th 1945, when the United States dropped two atomic bombs, the blast and heat destroyed the cities of close to 300,000 inhabitants. At the same time, the powerful radiation and radioactive fallout created an enduring radioactive hell. Those who survived lost family members and friends, as well as their homes, workplaces, and schools, but even as they struggled with overpowering grief, they overcame their many hardships one at a time and brought the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki back to life.

Survivors, who have had to live with the fear of effects of radiation on their health, have continued to call for the speedy abolition of nuclear weapons so that not one more person on this earth should experience the same suffering that they did. This sense of mission has given survivors the strength to live. We hope that the lives of the atomic survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki might be of some encouragement to the victims of the earthquake and tsunami.

Immediately after the incident, there was a flood of foreign media coverage. In response to this coverage, survivors, drawing comparisons with their own suffering, have been deeply pained by the destruction of the tsunami, and, as for the nuclear power plant accident, they are angered by the continued concealment of information by the government and Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), both of which bandy about the myth of "safety."

There is no such thing as 100% safe atomic energy. If by any chance there is an accident, nuclear power plants can cause damage that cannot be undone. As long as nuclear weapons exist, we cannot know what kind of accidents will happen. Moreover, as long as there are nations prepared to use nuclear weapons as deterrence, we must hasten to abolish the over 20,000 nuclear weapons that currently exist.

The Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant accident is still in a state that defies predictions. Reactors nos. 1, 3, and 4 have already experienced hydrogen explosions, and coupled with the collapse of their containment structures, radiation has begun to escape to the outside. It has been reported that radiation has contaminated spinach and milk, and the sudden directives to stop shipment of these items has caused resentment and anxiety among agricultural and dairy farmers. Feelings of concern among residents are growing.

Since the start of this accident, radiation contamination has been a fear, and even though various groups have made the results of radiation measurements available on the Internet, government officials continue to conceal measurements from the public. They claim they do this so as not to induce panic, but, on the contrary, it only engenders a distrust of the government.

The effects of radioactive contamination are not being properly communicated. The radioactive exposure from radioactive fallout, which we must be concerned about, is made up of minute particles, which cannot be seen by the naked eye and can be taken in though the nose and mouth and absorbed in the body, causing internal radiation poisoning. We cannot avoid the possibility of this internal exposure to radiation.

Survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were exposed to high doses of radiation not comparable to the current case of radiation contamination. Since its founding fifty-five years ago, Hidankyo has worked toward securing government policies and compensation to address the health problems caused by exposure to radiation. Our advocacy included an eight-year struggle to improve the system by which radiation-induced illnesses are officially recognized, and we successfully expanded the established standards for diseases caused by exposure to radiation.

For some time now, Hidankyo has been addressing energy administration, demanding policies that move away from a reliance on nuclear power and calling for adherence to independent, democratic, and transparent principles for the management of nuclear power. Instead, the government and TEPCO promote the myth of "safety" and manipulate information. Learning from this accident, we once again renew our appeals to rethink energy management.

Finally, we urge the government and TEPCO to offer relief to the victims and earnestly strive to quickly resolve the disaster at the nuclear power plant.