Antinuclear citizens’ group formed, gathering held in Hiroshima

by Yumi Kanazaki, Staff Writer

On February 12, a citizens’ group calling for the end of nuclear energy in Japan was established. The first gathering of “Sayonara Genpatsu Hiroshima no Kai” (a literal translation is “Goodbye Nuclear Power Plants Hiroshima Society”) was held at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum in downtown Hiroshima. Formed in the wake of the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 (Daiichi) nuclear power plant, and organized by lawyers, university professors, and intellectuals, the group brought together about 350 participants for its first meeting.

Arthur Binard, 44, a poet who has been involved in peace-related activities in Hiroshima, is co-director of the group. Mr. Binard said he hopes to forge ties among groups that seek the denuclearization of Japan. Shiro Taki, a professor emeritus at Hiroshima University and secretary general of the organization, said in his speech, “We must reflect on the fact that we accepted nuclear power for our nation while calling for the elimination of nuclear weapons. The voices from Hiroshima must stir a nationwide groundswell against nuclear energy.”

Takahiro Todoroki, 49, is a caregiver from Fukushima whose wife and child have been living with his wife’s family in Asakita Ward, Hiroshima since evacuating from their home in eastern Japan. Taking this opportunity to visit Hiroshima and join the gathering, Mr. Todoroki said, “Hiroshima and Fukushima are united in the fact that both stand for denuclearization. We must act together.”

The 22 founders of the organization include children’s literature author Seiko Miura and manga artist Keiji Nakazawa. The group plans to provide speakers for study sessions and collect signatures to call for the Japanese government to change the nation’s energy policy. The group will also hold a rally in Hiroshima on March 11, the one-year anniversary of the accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

(Originally published on February 14, 2012)