An A-bomb survivor takes on Abe

At a ceremony Saturday to mark the 69th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, a 75-year-old woman survivor harshly criticized the Abe administration’s decision to allow Japan to take part in conflicts overseas under the banner of collective self-defense.

Miyako Jodai’s criticism just in front of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expresses a sense of crisis held by many atomic bombing sufferers and ordinary citizens that Japan may again follow the path of war now that the Abe administration has dropped the traditional government interpretation of Article 9 of the Constitution, which had precluded Japan from exercising the right to militarily help an ally of Japan under attack even if Japan is not under attack.

Abe, his Cabinet members and all lawmakers should sincerely take heed of her criticism. It can be taken as both anger and a plea directed at politicians who have not personally experienced the horrors of war but are taking steps that shove aside the fundamental principle of postwar Japan that is embodied in Article 9 and the Preamble of the Constitution.

While Mayor Kazumi Matsui of Hiroshima did not directly mention Abe’s decision to allow Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense in the Hiroshima Peace Declaration 2014 on Aug. 6 to mark the 69th anniversary of the atomic bombing of that city, Mayor Tomihisa Taue of Nagasaki mentioned it in the Nagasaki Peace Declaration 2014.

“Nagasaki has continued to cry, ‘No more Nagasakis!’ and ‘No more war!'” he said. “The oath prescribed in the Japanese Constitution that Japan shall ‘renounce war’ is the founding principle for postwar Japan and Nagasaki, a country and a city that suffered the effects of the atomic bomb … However, the rushed debate over collective self-defense has given rise to the concern that this principle is wavering. I urgently request that the Japanese government take serious heed of these distressed voices.”

Jodai asked in her speech whether the current Japanese government is fulfilling its duty of playing a leading role in working toward an early conclusion of an international convention to ban nuclear weapons and then criticized Abe’s policy: “The move to allow the country to exercise the right to collective self-defense is an outrageous act of trampling on the Constitution. Are you going trying to make Japan into a country that can wage war and to defend itself by force?”

She went on to criticize specific policies of the Abe administration: “Production and export of weapons is a way toward war. Once a war starts, it brings in another war. History has proven this, hasn’t it?

“Please do not threaten young people and children who bear the future of Japan. Please do not forget and not airbrush out the suffering of hibakusha (atomic bombing victims).”

She also touched on the plight of Fukushima residents who are still living in prefabricated houses in the wake of the March 2011 nuclear catastrophe at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, and the parents and children who fear for the future following diagnoses that the children have pediatric thyroid cancer, adding “Is it right to restart idled nuclear power plants in this situation? The way to dispose of spent nuclear fuel is still unknown. (The government and power industry) should immediately consider appropriate steps including decommissioning of nuclear power plans.”

She also stressed that a nuclear bomb is not just a horrific blast, pointing to the horror of radiation exposure. She mentioned the sudden death of a hibakusha friend after she gave birth, and the death of her granddaughter, which she felt could be related to her being a hibakusha: “I was saddened and agonized,” she said, “thinking that if I had not been a hibakusha, this would not have happened. Humans do not have the power to cope with the dread of radiation brought by an atomic bomb, which is invisible.”

The speech by Jodai, who experienced the dread of war and a nuclear weapon, goes to the crux of the critical situation in which Japan finds itself. She demonstrates that citizens have to stand up and raise their voices when they feel that an unreasonable thing is going on in society.

  • Charlie Sommers

    Nuclear weapons should be abolished by every country in the world, they are a “Sword of Damocles” hanging over all our heads. Nuclear power should be shelved until such a time as a means of safely disposing of the resulting wastes has been devised.

    Nuclear energy could easily be replaced by solar energy, wind powered turbines, energy from tidal power and, perhaps most importantly of all, a reduction in the ways we wastefully use energy.

    • Norikazu Wada

      > Nuclear energy could easily be replaced by solar energy, wind powered turbines, energy from tidal power and, perhaps most importantly of all, a reduction in the ways we wastefully use energy.

      You are right at least in Japan. Now in the country that suffered from both two A-bombs and nuclear power plants, no atomic plants are under operation, but electricity has been supplied without the “uncontrollable” energy source after the Fukushima accident. Japan should take the initiative among developed countries.

  • andrewmag166

    With china and NK threatening Japan almost daily, if you were Japanese would you depend on o to take care of you?

    • George Reichel

      China was brutalized by Japan in WW11.There was a bigger holocaust there that was not publicized and commercialized/exploited.

      • Cyberphobic Technophile

        This true, however, as time passes countries change their objectives. Now, China assumes the role of aggressor and Japan the role of defender.

      • andrewmag166

        You are right, but that was a long time ago. I am talking about now Japan is a modern first world democratic country and strong ally of the US. China is a communist country and certainly a potential enemy. Although I think all countries should work together to make love money and peace, it’s not always the reality, china threats Japan Australia Taiwan and South Korea all decent countries and strong allies.

      • David Christopher

        yeah, you drop two a-bombs..and suddenly your mortal enemies become your closest friends and allies.

      • Roppi

        @George – same old perennial sound bite – which by association implicates the entire Japanese population 70 years after the cessation of hostilities and the dropping to two atomic bombs on Japanese cities + the fire bombing campaign on a number of other Japanese cities including Tokyo.. you feel they require more punishment??
        China – has inflicted far more on its own people than the Japanese have ever done.. Sure the Japanese were brutal and took advantage a weak – corrupt China and Korea + other SE Asian colonial countries during those years – but George give me an example of a 19th century colonial power (France, Portugal, Britain, US, Spain, Russia, etc, etc, etc – who did not abuse, coerce their colonies during these periods in history..

        Don’t get me started on the crusade wars between Christians and muslims in the middle ages…
        Or the Viking slaughter campaigns in Britain..
        Tell how the Russians soldiers on their march into Germany at the end of WW2 didn’t rape every woman and child they crossed paths with.

        And during the Stalin period of power millions of Russians were essentially murdered..
        Tell me how the The Rwandan Genocide was not a mass slaughter of Tutsi by members of the Hutu majority. Tell me how Pol Pot wasn’t responsible for the murder of more than a million of his countrymen during the late 70’s??

        But somehow the Japanese are still not forgotten or forgiven – and in particularly the two loss of face countries (China and Korea) proactively ensure it’s not forgotten and constantly leverage that through their propaganda for their own selfish purposes..

        Japan is being constantly threatened by China now a more powerful military entity who philosophically and systematically hate the Japanese – and who would like noting more than to wipe the country and it’s people from the face of the earth. So the Japanese after 70 years of pacifism want to try to more proactively to defend themselves..George wake up and smell the coffee..and think in more than bigoted sound bites

      • For all you who don’t know about it. Read ‘The Rape of Nanking’.

      • Roppi

        as written by whom Michael??

        Perhaps you can advise us the ‘correct’ text about ‘comfort women as well..

      • Roppi

        Thanks Brian – you’ve just introduced me to the else you’d like to add?

      • Yeah. Who is Brian ?

      • Since when does history provide “correct text” on anything.

    • David Christopher

      North Korea has been Japans secret nuclear weapons factory for years. Also, who in the hell would want to invade or take radioactive, resourceless Japan? There is nothing to be gained with taking japan.

  • 2eRep

    Jodai is a fool who has spent her life living the the protection of the US military, he is an idiot of the highest order.

  • Starviking

    Whatever wisdom the A-bomb survivor has, it certainly does not extend to radiogenic conditions or epidemeology. She is just stoking the fears of Fukushimans with her ill-informed comments on thyroid cancer.