Writer Kenzaburo Oe spearheads petition drive to eliminate nuclear power

by Takashi Takekawa, Staff Writer

Writers Kenzaburo Oe, Keiko Ochiai, and Satoshi Kamata, among other figures, held a press conference in Tokyo on September 6 and spoke out about eliminating nuclear power plants from Japan and addressing the problem of internal exposure to radiation, which continues unabated. In the wake of the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 (Daiichi) nuclear plant, they have been pursuing a petition drive to gather the signatures of 10 million people in support of ridding the nation of nuclear power.

“The Japanese dropped the third atomic bomb themselves,” Mr. Oe said, and stressed that “Against the historical backdrop of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and Japan's defeat in the war, the Constitution was made. In this same spirit, I propose that we make a new law which will eliminate nuclear power plants from the nation. We have come to a time of grave decision.”

The group shared a statement that they will deliver to the Noda administration, appealing for the government not to restart the nuclear plants that have suspended operations. The statement also asks if economic growth is worth the enormous risk of using nuclear power. It urges that the nation's nuclear reactors be decommissioned immediately and that Japan's energy policy be overhauled at the earliest possible date, among other actions.

The petition drive was launched in June and the signatures are expected to be presented to the government and the Diet next March. The group plans to hold a gathering with Mr. Oe and other members on September 8, as well as a rally with 50,000 people on September 19. Both events will be held in Tokyo.

(Originally published on September 7, 2011)