Atomic Bomb and Peaceful Use: März 2011

März 2011

The Atomic Bomb and "Peaceful Use of Nuclear Energy"

Yuki Tanaka

What went wrong with Japan's nuclear industry? The Japanese are often said to be hypersensitive about nuclear issues because of the experience of nuclear holocaust. How could they not be? On the morning of August 6, 1945, an atomic bomb instantly killed 70,000 to 80,000 civilian residents of Hiroshima city and by the end of that year, 140,000 residents of that city had died as a result of the bombing. Another 70,000 were killed in Nagasaki. Many others have subsequently died, often after experiencing a lifetime of suffering, or are still suffering from various diseases caused by the blast, fire and radiation.

Yet opposition to nuclear energy has never been strong in Japan. Why? It is true that the Japanese, in particular the citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, are highly conscious of the danger of nuclear weapons. A-bomb survivors, who know well the terror of the bomb and who fear the long-lasting effects of radiation, have therefore been the vanguard of the anti-nuclear weapons campaign. Despite this, however, many A-bomb survivors and anti-nuclear weapon activists have so far been indifferent to the nuclear energy issue. Despite a number of vibrant local movements contesting the construction of nuclear plants, anti-nuclear energy campaigners overall have long been marginalized.

Yuki Tanaka is Research Professor, Hiroshima Peace Institute, and a coordinator of The Asia-Pacific Journal. He is the author most recently of Yuki Tanaka and Marilyn Young, eds., Bombing Civilians: A Twentieth Century History as well as of Japan's Comfort Women and Hidden Horrors: Japanese War Crimes in World War II.

Recommended Citation: Yuki Tanaka, The Atomic Bomb and "Peaceful Use of Nuclear Energy," The Asia-Pacific Journal Vol 9, Issue 13 No 2, March 28, 2011.

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