Abandonment of nuclear power, the call of the Japanese bishops

Five and a half years after the Fukushima disaster and the evacuation of thousands of Japanese around the nuclear power plant, the Japanese bishops reiterate their call to abandon nuclear energy in order to preserve the "common home" of our Earth. For them, renewable energies and a simpler life based on the gospels must lead to a total shutdown of nuclear energy.

LJapan has the distinction of being the only country to have been hit by two nuclear bombs used as a weapon of destruction and deterrence during World War II, on August 6 and 9, 1945 in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The epicenter of the explosion in Hiroshima had reached the city's Catholic quarter. This tragic history of Japan is like a detonator which must lead to a duty of questioning and accountability, especially after the successive nuclear accidents of Three Miles Island (1979), Chernobyl (1986) and Fukushima (2011).

The commitment of the Catholic Church of Japan

The commitment of the Catholic Church of Japan - which brings together a small minority of 0,4% of the population - in favor of shutting down nuclear power plants long predates the accident following the earthquake and tsunami of 11 March 2011. The “Justice and Peace” Commission of the episcopate already decided to abandon nuclear energy and develop alternative energy sources in 1999 and then in 2001. In November 2011, during their plenary assembly, the Japanese bishops called on their government to shut down the country's nuclear power plants without delay.

Complexity of dismantling and abandoned land

The complexity of the dismantling of the Fukushima plant, which is still leaking 5 and a half years after the accident, its still unknown and prohibitive cost, the consequences on the evacuated population, the land abandoned for decades when Japan is a small island , etc. are all factual elements of reasoning pushing to give up this energy. Taking into account these elements and the geographical particularity of Japan to be in an intense seismic zone, Japanese bishops renew their call of November 2011, to shut down Japanese power plants and abandon nuclear power on a global scale.

“Even today, Japanese people are suffering the consequences of the [Fukushima] disaster. While we do not know how to completely eliminate nuclear waste, the Japanese government has started to reactivate some of the 48 nuclear reactors, closed after this tragedy, under the pretext that they are secure. (…) ”

That same day, November 11, 2016, the Japanese government, determined to revive the nuclear industry, signed an agreement with India, authorizing Japanese companies to export nuclear technology to India. Considering the suffering endured historically by the Japanese, the bishops emphasized that " we [Japanese] have a special responsibility to show solidarity with all those who suffer from nuclear power. Their text goes on to call for total nuclear disarmament. And in order to have a global reach, this call has been translated into English, Korean and German.

In their text, the bishops also insist on the fate of hazardous nuclear waste which raises ethical questions, calling on citizens to reconsider this question. They quote the encyclical of Pope Francis, Laudato Si, on the safeguard of creation, recalling that the “common home” must be protected.

"The development and research in the field of renewable energies, combined with a decrease in our energy consumption, would allow us to gradually replace our nuclear energy production, by seeking a simple way of life, centered on the spirit of poverty, as the Gospels invite us to do. ”

In 2001, their 1st appeal was unlikely to be heard in Japan.

In 2001, their first appeal was unlikely to be heard in Japan. After the Fukushima disaster, questions were raised about the safety of the power plants. In Japan all the plants had been shut down. In the world, power plants have had to "secure" their operation in the face of an earthquake and engineers must also think about the consequences of global warming. In France, 21 plants out of 58 were shut down in autumn 2016 due to anomalies, ie more than 1 in 3 reactors shut down. The “faith” of some in nuclear power has not and will not protect us from future accidents, nor from the management of nuclear waste for millennia. Today the faith of these Catholic bishops will go beyond the borders of Japan by recalling the universal message to protect the Earth and the call to go beyond the challenges and short-term interests of nuclear power.

“We need to reconsider our way of life and the way we consume, enhance human dignity and deepen our relationships with God, society and nature. Each citizen of the world has a share of responsibility and solidarity to have in the preservation of the environment and in the protection of life as a whole, which is the work of God. "

Nathanael Bechdolff

Listen to the podcast: Japanese Bishops and Civilian Nuclear Power

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