From Hiroshima With Love

In honor of the victims of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan, I would like to offer sincere condolences and a wish for deeper understanding and greater empathy the world over. Sixty seven years ago this August 6, at 8:15 AM, 140,000 were killed by the destructive power of the world’s first nuclear weapon detonation.

An image from Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park the day before the anniversary of the Bomb; Japanese people are staging a “die-in” protest in honor of the victims of the atomic bombing; image courtesy of Getty Images AsiaPac via www.zimbiopictures.com.

This Monday, August 6, 2012, marked the 67th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, Japan — and the world’s first use of a nuclear weapon. Even after sixty-seven years, longer than I’ve been on this earth, I find myself with endless questions so few answer, especially in regard to what this means in the future for Japan.

The aftermath of the bomb was obvious, and the mass of public opinion was stated loud and clear: no nuclear weapons, no nuclear power, and nothing but the spread of peace to all corners of the world, starting from the heart of Hiroshima.

If they could speak, those lost to the bomb would likely wish for an end to nuclear manipulation, whether for peaceful power or weapons of war. They might ask why nuclear energy is even an option under consideration anymore. They might want to know how, with the harnessing of peaceful nuclear power, more safeguards haven’t been put in place to protect innocent people in the wake of disaster. They might ask these questions of the Japanese government, TEPCO, and the leaders at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor.

The Japanese people have been speaking out against the use of nuclear energy for decades, and it’s only recently that those in power took a listen and tried to respect their wishes. The most compelling data in regard to Japanese views on nuclear power have come recently from the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project. Pew’s data were collected from surveys of 700 Japanese adults in the spring of this year, and were used as a barometer of the country’s opinion on their energy future. The data were overwhelming. Of the survey participants, 78% were dissatisfied with the country’s future energy plans, and 70% wanted to see a reduction in nuclear energy usage. This opinion can be directly attributed to the government’s handling of the earthquake and tsunami disaster handling and recovery efforts, which stands at a 60% disapproval rating.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has promised to sway the government toward an energy policy that will both power the country and respect the people’s wishes: “Under our fundamental policy to abandon the nation’s dependence on nuclear power, we will strive to establish a mid-to-long-term energy structure, one (with) which the public will feel safe.”

In an effort to take into account the opinions of the national energy researchers, the governmental bureaucracy, and in a revolutionary move, the general public that has to live with these energy choices, a timeline has been established to make a decision about Japan’s energy future. By 2030, there will be a ruling on the country’s nuclear power dependence. Even so, I have to ask: why give eighteen years? It’s been sixty-seven years since nuclear power made the first strike against Japan, and seventeen months since another incompetent blow was struck. The ghosts of Hiroshima are still restless among us, and unless a drastic change is made, the ghosts of Fukushima will be around to haunt us from here on.