Category Archives: Japan

In Japan, U.S. bishop says USCCB will push for nuclear disarmament

Catholic News Service
By Paul Jeffrey, Catholic News Service

Prayer for peace on 70th anniversary of Hiroshima bombing Prayer for peace on 70th anniversary of Hiroshima bombing Prayer for peace on 70th anniversary of Hiroshima bombing Japanese girl displays folded paper cranes during 70th anniversary of Hiroshima bombing Christians march to Catholic Memorial Cathedral for World Peace in Hiroshima during commemoration of atomic bomb drop Girl displays folded paper cranes for 70th anniversary of Hiroshima bombing.

People pray at a memorial in Hiroshima, Japan, Aug. 6, to commemorate the victims of the atomic bombing of the city by the United States in 1945. Delegation members from the World Council of Churches, in Hiroshima for the commemoration, said they would return home to build a movement to rid the world of nuclear weapons. (CNS photo/Paul Jeffrey)
People pray at a memorial in Hiroshima, Japan, Aug. 6, to commemorate the victims of the atomic bombing of the city by the United States in 1945. Delegation members from the World Council of Churches, in Hiroshima for the commemoration, said they would return home to build a movement to rid the world of nuclear weapons. (CNS photo/Paul Jeffrey)

HIROSHIMA, Japan (CNS) — For a long minute on a sunny morning, silence fell over the memorial park that commemorates the Aug. 6, 1945, atomic bombing of the city.

A gong sounded repeatedly as local residents and visitors from around the world stopped to remember a similarly sunny morning 70 years ago when a fireball ripped apart the skies.

Among the visitors to Hiroshima was Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico. It was the bishop’s first visit to Japan, and he said he was moved by what he saw and heard from Japanese Catholics, who have been adamant in demanding an end to nuclear weapons.

“It’s important for an American delegation to be here with the Japanese in this moment, because we celebrate the efforts they have made for peace, and we stand in solidarity with them. They are part of a church that around the world has spoken against the proliferation of nuclear weapons, a message that here is directed particularly at the United States,” Bishop Cantu told Catholic News Service.

“So although our countries were enemies 70 years ago, we have become allies in this effort. We do, however, recognize that there’s movement in Japan toward building up their military capabilities again. We caution against that, and we stand with the bishops of Japan in opposing that,” he said.

Bishop Cantu, who serves as chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, said that as a U.S. citizen, he arrived in Hiroshima with a sense of “sorrow and repentance.”

He also was to travel to Nagasaki, the second Japanese city on which the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb, for similar ceremonies Aug. 9.

“The Japanese bishops have much to teach us. I was heartened to read their statement from earlier this year in which, on behalf of all Japanese, they repented for the harm they did to people of the region (in the wars). That attitude allows us to start moving forward,” he said.

Following a Mass that marked the bombing’s anniversary at the Catholic Memorial Cathedral for World Peace, Bishop Cantu spoke to the congregation about the work that U.S. bishops are doing to ensure that the world will experience no more Hiroshimas.

The bishop said that since the end of the Cold War in 1991, Americans think little about nuclear weapons and the threat they pose. The recent agreement negotiated by the several countries with Iran “puts nuclear weapons in the forefront of political debate after years of being an afterthought in the minds of most Americans,” he said.
For many of his generation, Bishop Cantu said, “the return to a serious discussion of nuclear disarmament may seem like an outdated exercise. Sadly, it is not.”

He cited the nuclear threats of Russia over Ukraine and Russia’s announcement in June that it is boosting its nuclear arsenal by putting 40 new intercontinental ballistic missiles into service. He said those developments have lent fuel to hawks in the U.S. Congress, who in turn want to modernize the U.S. arsenal, replacing old weapons systems they claim are obsolete. Such an attitude likely reflects changing public opinion in the U.S., he said, noting that opinion polls show declining support for reducing nuclear arsenals.
That means the U.S. bishops, who have for decades argued for reducing and eliminating nuclear weapons, have major work ahead, he said.

“The task of the U.S. bishops is to convince the majority of Americans … that they need to support the vision of a world without nuclear weapons. They need to believe that such a goal is possible,” he said.

But the bishops cannot go it alone and have often partnered with others with similar interests in peace, he explained.

“Happily, our partners in nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament are not confined to just the religious community in the United States. There are scientists, politicians, business and military leaders, academics, and civil society activists who have joined this effort,” he said.

Yet the bishop warned that the struggle against nuclear weapons in the U.S. has encountered difficulties of late in Washington’s hot political climate. Given what he called the “increased political polarization within our Congress,” all signs indicate the road to authentic disarmament will be long and difficult, but Bishop Cantu pledged that the U.S. bishops will continue “to fight the good fight to eliminate nuclear weapons.”

Okinawans Want Their Land Back. Is That So Hard to Understand?

FOREIGN POLICY IN FOCUS

The U.S. military sits at the center of a dispute that’s plagued the peaceful island of Okinawa for decades.

By Jon Letman, Originally published in Truthout.

Protesters hold up anti-military base signs in Okinawa. (Photo: Chota Takamine)
Protesters hold up anti-military base signs in Okinawa. (Photo: Chota Takamine)

Living in a country where people learn world geography through frequently fought overseas wars, Americans are accustomed to reading about places where we’ve fought wars — Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. But one formerly war-ravaged part of the world most Americans don’t think much about is Okinawa.

Once the independent kingdom of Ryukyu, Okinawa was annexed by Japan through a series of events in the 1870s. At the end of World War II, 70 years ago, Okinawa was the site of one of the war’s most ferocious battles.

Caught between the armies of Japan and the United States, Okinawans suffered unspeakable horrors during the “typhoon of steel.” Viewed as expendable under imperial Japan, many Okinawans were killed outright by Japanese soldiers or forced to commit mass suicide. An estimated 120,000 Okinawans — between one-third and one-quarter of the population — died between March and June 1945. Continue reading Okinawans Want Their Land Back. Is That So Hard to Understand?

Japan court bars restart of Takahama nuclear reactors

Asia

The court said the plant was not ready for a major earthquake
The court said the plant was not ready for a major earthquake

A Japanese court has blocked the restarting of two nuclear reactors in the western city of Takahama, after local people raised safety concerns.

 

The plant had already obtained approval from the country’s nuclear watchdog.

But locals had petitioned the court in Fukui prefecture, where Takahama is located, to intervene, saying it would not withstand a strong earthquake. Continue reading Japan court bars restart of Takahama nuclear reactors

Survivors mark four years since 3/11 disasters

Japan Times
KYODO, STAFF REPORT

A man prays for victims of the March 11, 2011, quake-tsunami disaster at a memorial site in the city of Sendai on Wednesday. | KYODO
A man prays for victims of the March 11, 2011, quake-tsunami disaster at a memorial site in the city of Sendai on Wednesday. | KYODO

Japan on Wednesday commemorated the fourth anniversary of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami with prayers for the more than 18,000 people who died or who remain missing following the disaster, which devastated much of the Tohoku region.
The anniversary comes at a time when post-quake reconstruction in hard-hit Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures remains incomplete, with many evacuees still forced to live away from their hometowns amid decommissioning work at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant and decontamination work across Fukushima Prefecture. Continue reading Survivors mark four years since 3/11 disasters

New Leak Spurs Radiation Spike at Fukushima

Common Dreams

The latest incident underscores the difficulty of safely cleaning up and decommissioning the nuclear plant

Deirdre Fulton

Workers at TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station work among underground water storage pools in April, 2013. Two types of above-ground storage tanks rise in the background.(Photo: IAEA Imagebank/flickr/cc)
Workers at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station work among underground water storage pools in April, 2013. Two types of above-ground storage tanks rise in the background.(Photo: IAEA Imagebank/flickr/cc)

A fresh leak of radioactive water was detected at the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant on Sunday, raising new concerns about ongoing efforts to clean up the site. Continue reading New Leak Spurs Radiation Spike at Fukushima

TEPCO executives won’t face charges over Fukushima disaster, Japan prosecutors say

ABC News

Japanese prosecutors say three former Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) executives will not be charged over their handling of the 2011 Fukushima disaster, setting up a possible showdown with a rarely used citizen’s panel that could still force an indictment.

A spokesman for the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office said the prosecutors decided not to issue charges due to insufficient evidence.

“We conclude that there is not enough evidence to suggest that TEPCO executives could have predicted or could have avoided (the accident),” said Ryoichi Nakahara, deputy chief prosecutor of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office. Continue reading TEPCO executives won’t face charges over Fukushima disaster, Japan prosecutors say

‘Remember Fukushima’: Thousands Rally Against Nuclear Restart in Japan

Common Dreams

Nobel laureate Kenzaburo Oe: “Three and a half years have passed since the nuclear accident, but self-examination has yet to be made.”

Lauren McCauley, staff writer

"We don't need nukes!" declared the roughly 16,000 protesters who rallied outside of the residence of Japan Prime Minister Shinzo on Tuesday. (Photo: via Chika_Sara)
“We don’t need nukes!” declared the roughly 16,000 protesters who rallied outside of the residence of Japan Prime Minister Shinzo on Tuesday. (Photo: via Chika_Sara)

“Don’t forget Fukushima” was the message Tuesday morning as roughly 16,000 people gathered in downtown Tokyo to protest the restart of Japan’s nuclear power plants.

The demonstration, held outside the official residence of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, came a day after the government outlined plans to restart two reactors at the Sendai nuclear plant in southern Japan at a five-day meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Jiji News reports. Continue reading ‘Remember Fukushima’: Thousands Rally Against Nuclear Restart in Japan