Sleeping Mountains

Reflections on life, literature, and culture.

Category: Nuclear Energy and Radioactivity

4/10 Anti-Nuclear Energy Protest

Yesterday, the anti-nuclear protest at Kōenji that I took part in stretched on for five hours – six if you count the hour before it began!! There were so many participants that because they were so carefully directed by the police into a single street lane, it stretched on forever and moved quite slowly. Protestors were orderly, but adamant, remaining until the end in the square outside Kōenji Station.

It was like a huge moving festival. A large sound truck blasted the neighborhood with chants and music, and people danced. Where I helped carry a banner, though, we were so far away from the truck we couldn’t hear it. Other musicians played drums, flutes, guitars, trumpets, pots, and we all chanted. It was a great atmosphere.

According to one man counting us from the roadside, we were 8,000 people, plus thousands more watching on UStream. According to a report by Kyodo News, we were 15,000!

In the days to come, I hope to write about how I understand the experience. In the meantime, here are a few pictures. . .

Update: Haha! How embarrassing. I’ve fallen into the Japanglish trap again. This time I used the word “nuke” for nuclear power instead of for atomic bombs! Sorry! I’m going to try to correct that. . . Does “nuke energy” work? Um. . . no. “Nuclear Energy” it is.

A Guide for First Time Protestors

I just found this very cute instruction manual for protests called “Hajimete no demo (My First Protest).” I only had time to skim through it, and no time to translate, but I thought you would like it.

(From 410nonuke. See original file here.)

Radioactive Dead?

(From The New York Times.)

Clean-up workers have started entering the area around the Fukushima reactors to look for the dead. However, on March 31st, Spiegel Online reported a horrific situation.

Im Gebiet um das havarierte Katastrophenkraftwerk liegen noch immer bis zu tausend Leichen. Eine Bergung ist aber bisher nicht möglich – Rettungsteams, Ärzte oder aber auch die Angehörigen selbst könnten bei der Bergung einer zu hohen radioaktiven Strahlung ausgesetzt sein. Würden die Toten eingeäschert, könnten die radioaktiven Partikel in die Lugt gelangen; bei einer Erdbestattung könnte der Boden kontaminiert werden, schrieb Kyodo. Pläne, die Strahlenbelastung der Toten in der Sperrzone zu testen, wurden laut Nachrichtenagentur Kyodo jedoch am Donnerstag wieder aufgegeben.

Und so können Überlebende, die Angehörige bei der Katastrophe verloren haben, ihre Toten nicht bestatten. Die einzige Möglichkeit, die bleibt: die Leichen vor Ort in Spezialfahrzeugen zu dekontaminieren. Das wird derzeit überlegt.

(In the area around the reactors up to thousands of bodies still lay. Recovery is still impossible – rescue teams, doctors, and family members might be exposed to too high radiation. If the bodies are cremated, the radioactive particles could get in the air; in the case of burial, the ground might be contaminated, writes Kyodo. Plans to test levels of radioactivity on the dead were given up again on Thursday according to the news agency Kyodo.

And therefore, survivors of the catastrophe who have lost family cannot bury their dead. The only remaining possibility: to decontaminate them on site in special vehicles. This is now being considered.)

This makes me wonder if any rescue teams entered the area right after the quake, or were trapped people left to die because of other peoples’ fears?! If anyone has information on this, please share it.

As I mentioned yesterday, thousands of times more people have died from the natural disasters of earthquake and tsunami along the whole eastern coast of Japan than from the radioactivity around the Fukushima reactor. Since more people die of natural causes than of radioactivity, fear of the invisible is what is driving people’s actions.

However, the survivors in Fukushima need to also be reassured and comforted as they grieve. Helping them recover the dead and giving them a decent burial is vital in that process.

Protest on Sunday at Kōenji!

(The banner.)

On Sunday, April 10 at Kōenji (高円寺) in Tokyo, there will be an anti-nuclear power demonstration. I have no idea how large it will be, but I will be there, somewhere near this banner, which we were making today at Lavenderia, a cafe in Shinjuku that I went to for the first time last Sunday. To see the whole banner (all in English with a message to the world), come to the protest! (For those who can’t come, I’ll be posting about it as soon as I can.)

Here the basic information about the protest:

14:00 Gather at Kōenji Central Park (a minute walk from the south exit of Kōenji Sta.)

15:00 Start!

Here’s a map of the route:

(The JR station at the top of the map is Kōenji, near the start and finish of the protest. From 410nonuke.)

For information about this protest and other protests elsewhere in the world, take a look at the 410nonuke site. They’ve got information in various languages if you look around a bit.

It seems that Japanese are finally getting fed up with the status quo. Things can change if we work together to create a better future in this society. This is not just Japan’s problem or the Japanese’ problem. This is something we all have to do together.

International media on political and corporate failure in response to the tragedy:

Petra Kolonko for FAZ (German)

Plutonium and Mickey Mouse on the Economist (on corporate problems within Tepco)

A Crisis of Leadership, Too on the Economist (on political and corporate leadership in response to the triple disaster)


NPR: The Face to our Nuclear Fears

(From NPR Morning Edition, via The International Date Line.)


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