Thursday 11 August 2011

Speech for Nagasaki Day Ceremony in London by Kick Nuclear's Dan Viesnik

Nagasaki Day Ceremony, Battersea Park Peace Pagoda, London
Tuesday 9th August, 2011

Notes from speech by Dan Viesnik (Kick Nuclear and Trident Ploughshares)

-   66 years since manmade nuclear disasters at Hiroshima and Nagasaki
-   5 months since nuclear disaster at Fukushima, the worst since Chernobyl, 25 years ago

- Russian ambassador to Japan, in Hiroshima for a ceremony to remember the annihilation of the city in 1945, said that while Hiroshima was a disaster caused by humans, the Fukushima nuclear crisis is “a disaster by natural causes.” [1]

- The latter is simply not true: earthquake / tsunami not the cause of 3 reactors going into meltdown and a 4th also in crisis: human origin, predictable and preventable: failure of cooling systems due to:
a) Loss of power    b) Known design flaws    c) Corner-cutting by TEPCO, the plant operator

Result:  Since March 11 radiation has leaked into air, soil and sea and forced tens of thousands to leave their homes, leading to massive public anger. Radiation also continues to rise in food samples from beef to rice and seafood – all staples of Japan’s diet. [2]

-   Cancer and birth defect risks likely to persist for generations due to radioactive contamination of the environment
-   Japan only too familiar with long-term health risks from such contamination – experiences of Hibakusha (A-bomb survivors)

-   Even if every possible safety measure were to be adopted, still would not eliminate risk of such a catastrophe happening again, whether in Japan, Britain or elsewhere.

-   Nuclear power is inherently risky and unsafe. Other countries are finally starting to recognise this:

- Following massive popular protests in Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel has agreed to shut down the last German reactor by 2022.

- Switzerland plans to follow suit and close down all five of its reactors by 2035.

- Italy, which doesn’t have any nuclear reactors in activity, turned out in surprising force in June for a referendum on nuclear power in which 95% of voters elected to outlaw nuclear power in the country.

- On Saturday, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan became the first senior Japanese official to speak in favour of the country moving away from its reliance on nuclear power:

Addressing those gathered to commemorate the 66th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Kan said the ongoing crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant… means Japan must turn to other energy sources.

"I will reduce
Japan's reliance on nuclear power, aiming at creating a society that will not rely on atomic power generation," he added. [2]

-   Mayor of Nagasaki, Tomisha Taue, wrote yesterday about doing away with myths regarding both nuclear power and nuclear weapons and facing reality. He said:

“The myth that nuclear plants are completely safe has crumbled because of the Fukushima plant disaster. However, Hiroshima and Nagasaki have been fighting with a different myth for over half a century: that the United States was justified in dropping the atomic bombs because they saved more lives than they took. Journalist Akira Naka shows that this myth is not based in fact in his book "Mokusatsu" (Ignore by silence), but it is nonetheless still vigorously propagated.” [3]

The sentiments of the Japanese Prime Minister and the Mayor of Nagasaki were echoed by the words of the Mayor of Hiroshima, Kazumi Matsui, who said on Saturday:

“The continuing radiation scare has made many people live in fear and undermined people's confidence in nuclear power,” adding that the government must review its energy policy. [2]

Meanwhile, Greenpeace worker Sakyo Noda, who spent Saturday’s Hiroshima anniversary carrying out sampling work at a kindergarten in Fukushima City, reported:

“It was such a hot day that for a second, I was reminded of the more usual
Hiroshima Day. But I couldn't talk about that in front of the parents who were desperate to protect their own children in Fukushima in 2011.” [4]

The Japan Congress against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs recently organised a 1700-strong rally in Fukushima City – joined by some of the 85,000+ residents evacuated from areas around the crippled power plant. AFP reported:

It was the first time that the leading anti-nuclear organisation staged a rally in Fukushima to observe the anniversaries of the World War II atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9, 1945.

Koichi Kawano, a Nagasaki atomic-bomb survivor who heads the organising group, told the rally:
“We have tended to focus on abolition of nuclear weapons while being weak in our campaign against nuclear power plants," before adding ‘Let there be no more nuclear plant accidents.”

Writing about the Japanese nuclear industry a month after the accident at Fukushima, Robert Jay Lifton said:

…there was… a pattern of denial, cover-up and cozy bureaucratic collusion between industry and government, the last especially notorious in Japan but by no means limited to that country. Even then, pro-nuclear power forces could prevail only by managing to instill in the minds of Japanese people a dichotomy between the physics of nuclear power and that of nuclear weapons, an illusory distinction made not only in Japan but throughout the world. [6]


Meanwhile, the UK Government continues to show its contempt for parliamentary democracy on the nuclear weapons issue by proceeding with its Trident nuclear weapon system replacement programme, including:

-         A multi-billion pound upgrade to the Aldermaston Atomic Weapons Establishment’s nuclear warhead facilities, without no parliamentary debate or vote

-         Signing contracts worth billions of pounds with arms giants BAE Systems, Rolls Royce and Babcock Marine to begin work on a new generation of Trident submarines years ahead of any parliamentary decision to proceed with Trident replacement, making a mockery of the coalition agreement on Trident.

Nuclear power

- Only last month, Parliament gave the green light to the nuclear industry to build new nuclear power stations at eight sites in England and Wales.
- The first of the new reactors is planned at Hinkley Point in Somerset

- The Stop New Nuclear alliance, which includes CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) and Trident Ploughshares, is mobilising for a blockade of Hinkley on 3rd October, to stop the UK’s nuclear new build plans in its tracks.
- I urge you all to join the action, whether as a blockader or supporter

[More info: flyers + website ]

- There’s also a campaign for electricity customers to boycott EDF Energy, the UK subsidiary of French energy giant EDF, which is spearheading nuclear new build in England.

- Finally, I have recently returned from an international walk along the Loire River in France against both nuclear power and nuclear weapons, organised by Footprints for Peace and the French anti-nuclear network Sortir du Nucleaire.

- This linked in with a two-month walk about to start in Western Australia, also organised by Footprints for Peace, with aboriginal communities affected by uranium mining, just as indigenous communities around the world, from North America to Niger are affected. [7]

- I’m happy to provide more information on any of these events and campaigns.



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