- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 4, 2005

Akira Tashiro, senior staff writer and special project editor at the Chugoku Shimbun in Hiroshima, the region’s major daily, spoke to Washington Times reporter Takehiko Kambayashi about the significance of the 60th anniversary of the atomic bombing of the Japanese city.

Question: August 6 marks the 60th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. According to the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations, the number of atomic-bomb living victims is less than 270,000, down from 323,420 10 years ago. As the number of survivors is declining, more people may see it as a thing of the past.

Answer: When schoolchildren in Hiroshima receive peace education, it seems some of them want to say, “Again?” However, we know that victims of atomic bombing have continued to suffer even after the war ended.

I also talked to orphans whose parents perished in the bombing. They evacuated to the countryside when the bomb was dropped on the city. After the war, they had to move from one relative’s place to another.

Survivors describe their experience as “living hell.” Had nuclear development stopped after the “living hell,” we could have regarded the atomic bombing as one page of history. However, the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki ushered in the nuclear age. During the Cold War era, the U.S. and the Soviet Union had been competing fiercely with each other on nuclear weapons development. They developed not only atomic bombs, but hydrogen bombs. Such bombs have been very advanced, and nuclear submarines developed. In addition, more nuclear testing was conducted, and more countries want to possess nuclear weapons.

The average age of victims of the atomic bombing is 73, and nuclear deterrent is taken for granted. … Our job is to tell the world that the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are not things of the past. Journalists in Hiroshima like us, who have learned about the experience of the victims, also look at such international issues as nuclear arms, radioactive contamination and the use of depleted uranium weapons, and tell the world how we view them.

Q: What do you make of the fact that Japan is really committed to nuclear power, actually depending on it for about 30 percent of its energy?

A: Nuclear energy is highly touted as cheap, clean and good for the prevention of global warming. However, based on our report on the aftermath of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear reactor accident and others, we have clearly indicated that’s not the case.

I believe Japan needs to head in the direction of breaking with nuclear power generation, and that is one way to take in the 21st century. Even if we can operate nuclear energy plants safely, we still have issues of spent nuclear fuel. We have to consider how we can manage fissionable materials for tens of thousands of years. How can we take our responsibility for future generations?

Q: What should Japan do?

A: At least from now on, we should spend much more money on the research and development of alternative energy resources. I believe that is one of the concrete ways for Japan, the only country to be bombed with atomic weapons, to contribute to the world community.

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