On Sept. 21, 2013, a tiny paper crane made by Sadako Sasaki, the Hiroshima girl who had hoped to survive radiation-induced leukemia by folding 1,000 paper cranes, arrived at the Pearl Harbor museum.
The exhibit opened on the day more than 200 countries celebrate the UN’s International Day of Peace and Nonviolence. Sadako was 2 years old when the U.S. dropped a nuclear bomb less than a mile from her home.
Here’s a bit from the news article:
“An origami created by a girl who contracted leukemia and died as a result of Hiroshima’s atomic bombing will be displayed at the visitor center of a memorial for victims of the attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. …
Sadako Sasaki folded hundreds of origami paper cranes while she battled leukemia. She died in 1955 at the age of 12.
The origami is one of three owned by the nonprofit organization Sadako Legacy headed by her elder brother, Masahiro Sasaki, 70.
It is said in Japan that a person’s wishes will come true if he or she folds 1,000 paper cranes.
“We hope the country that started war by attacking Pearl Harbor (in 1941) and the other that ended the war by dropping the atomic bombs (in 1945) will reach an end of the war from the heart, discarding their old grudges,” Sasaki said.
“We hope the origami will serve as a catalyst for that.”
Clifton Truman Daniel, the 55-year-old grandson of Harry Truman, the U.S. president who authorized the 1945 atomic bombings, worked as a go-between so the origami could go on display at the Visitor Center of the USS Arizona Memorial in Honolulu.”
While Japan begins yet another multi-generational nuclear nightmare as a result of the nuclear power plant meltdown at Fukushima, here on the home front two grandmothers, two priests, and a nun go to jail for protecting you and me against a similar fate.
In Tacoma, Washington, on Monday, March 28, 2011, 5 of our elders were sentenced in federal court for calling to account the hundreds of U.S. nuclear weapons stockpiled for use by our Trident submarines. The Trident base at Bangor is home to the largest single stockpile of nuclear warheads in the U.S. arsenal.
For years there has been a concerted effort by the nuclear and defense industry to distance nuclear weapons production from nuclear power. In reality, it is all one industry that produces all one result: a deadly toxin with no known cure that kills everything it encounters either immediately or slowly over generations through cancer and genetic mutation. Whether used offensively in weaponized form or “passively” to boil water and turn on lights, nuclear fission–as an industry–must be dismantled.
(Note: Nuclear medicine accounts for a tiny percentage of radioactive material in the U.S. and can continue with proper regulation.)
Nuclear weapons and nuclear energy are all part of the same death cycle. It’s time to stop nuclear weapons production, research, upgrades, and extended contracts. It’s time to dismantle existing nuclear weapons.
It’s time to suspend licensing for all nuclear power plants. It’s time to end subsidies to the nuclear power industry. If we transferred the nuclear power industry’s subsidy money toward renewable resources, then within 5 years we could be well on our way to carbon-free energy independence.
So who are the grandparents out defending you against a radioactive future? Sentenced were:
*Anne Montgomery, 83, a Sacred Heart sister from New York, who was ordered to serve 2 months in federal prison and 4 months electronic home confinement
*Bill Bischel, 81, a Jesuit priest from Tacoma Washington, ordered to serve 3 months in prison and 6 months electronic home confinement
*Susan Crane, 67, a member of the Jonah House community in Baltimore, Maryland, ordered to serve 15 months in federal prison
*Lynne Greenwald, 60, a nurse from Bremerton Washington, ordered to serve 6 months in federal prison
*Steve Kelly, 60, a Jesuit priest from Oakland California, ordered to serve 15 months in federal prison
They were also ordered to pay $5300 each and serve an additional year in supervised probation. To consider whether you might join them, contact Disarm Now Plowshares or support them through your prayers, financial aid, and letters.
Just a reminder about the scale of nuclear weapons we are talking about at this one nuclear base in Bangor, Washington. In November 2006, the Natural Resources Defense Council declared that the 2,364 nuclear warheads at Bangor are approximately 20 percent of the entire U.S. arsenal. The Bangor base houses more nuclear warheads than China, France, Israel, India, North Korea and Pakistan combined.
The base has been rebuilt for the deployment of the larger and more accurate Trident D-5 missile system. Each of the 24 D-5 missiles on a Trident submarine is capable of carrying eight of the larger 455 kiloton W-88 warheads (each warhead is about 30 times the explosive force as the Hiroshima bomb.) The D-5 missile can also be armed with the 100 kiloton W-76 warhead. The Trident fleet at Bangor deploys both the 455 kiloton W-88 warhead and the 100 kiloton W-76 warhead.
Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency admitted this week that the Fukushima disaster was a level 5, which is classified as a crisis causing “several deaths from radiation” due to “severe damage to reactor core and release of large quantities of radioactive material within an installation with a high probability of significant public exposure,” according to the UN International Atomic Energy Commission.
However, the U.S. and Europe have put the Japan nuclear crisis at Level 6: Serious impact on people and environment with significant release of radioactive material. Usually, when it reaches this level, governments begin classifying the research on how it affected civilian and environmental populations. So it’s not known how many deaths, birth defects, genetic damage, or long-term cancers were caused by previous Level 6 disasters.
Orthodox Christian Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew said recently, “Our Creator has given us the sun, wind, waves, from which energy can be extracted for our needs. An ecological science has the ability to invent tools for the production of renewable energy that is not harmful. Why, then, spread the use of energy production that is so dangerous to the integrity of the human race? Is it not an insult and a provocation of nature, which in turn then turns her back on human beings? From this our humble home, along with our prayers for the sorely tried people of the Land of the Rising Sun, we take the opportunity to make an appeal to States to reconsider their policy on nuclear energy.”
Today is the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C. The fragile blossoms are at their peak. Backlit by dawn, the flowers burst into flame. Tonight they will drop with the snow flurries. The festival is more subdued this year in keeping with the natural disasters and nuclear devastation through which Japan (and the world) are suffering.
The cover of the March 28, 2011 issue of The New Yorker is adorned by a “Dark Spring” in Japan. But before the artwork went to print, artist Christoph Niemann said he was suffering a creative dilemma. “I realized that there is no way a drawing that depicts the devastation, can come close to the heart-wrenching and bizarre photos I’ve seen everywhere,” Niemann reflected.
He blended his admiration for Japanese ink drawings, and came up with with the cover concept above. “The quiet beauty of plum blossoms mixed with the radiation symbol would make an eery and appropriate metaphor for the threat of a nuclear catastrophe.”
I decided to read a few of the elder Japanese poets in commemoration of the day. Here are a few tender lines from Matsuo Basho (1644-1694):
A village without bells–
how do they live?
the sea and the rice fields
all one green.
The spring we don’t see–
on the back of a hand mirror
a plum tree in flower.
Not this human sadness,
but your solitary cry.
More than ever I want to see
in these blossoms at dawn
the god’s face.
The U.S. Navy reported today that it had detected low levels of airborne radiation at the Yokosuka and Atsugi bases, about 200 miles to the north of the Japan’s Fukushima nuclear reactors. They are moving ships out of range.
“While there was no danger to the public, Commander, Naval Forces Japan recommended limited precautionary measures for personnel and their families on Fleet Activities Yokosuka and Naval Air Facility Atsugi, including limiting outdoor activities and securing external ventilation systems as much as practical,” a statement said. “These measures are strictly precautionary in nature. We do not expect that any United States Federal radiation exposure limits will be exceeded even if no precautionary measures are taken,” it added.
News reports, scientists, nuclear energy corporate officials, and government spokespersons are reiterating that the nuclear reactor meltdown in Fukushima, Japan, is not like Chernobyl. It’s more like Three Mile Island. Apparently, this is supposed to allay public concern.
The arguments made by the nuclear industry today are that huge improvements have been made in the safety and efficiency of nuclear energy production — much of which is true. But the nuclear corporations still have no answer to radioactive waste or the multi-generational devastation to all living creatures when the unforeseeable occurs — as has happened in Japan.
Below, Sojourners reprints a commentary by Vince Books written at the time of the Three Mile Island disaster. Vince actually worked on the construction crew of the plant and eventually became a committed advocate against nuclear power:
The Metropolitan Edison Company (Met-Ed) is proud. Proud of progress on that island. Proud to be helping to solve America’s energy problems. And proud to be splitting atoms, heating water, forcing steam, turning generators, and producing electricity. It is, however, Met-Ed’s other contributions that will long be remembered. These include iodine 131, cesium 137, strontium 90, and plutonium, to be followed perhaps by an assortment of cancers and birth defects. Met-Ed is leaving more than footprints on the sands of time.
The residents of central Pennsylvania are sleeping. Or at least they were when something went terribly wrong out there on Three Mile Island. It was 4 a.m. March 28, 1979. There was a mal-function in the secondary cooling system of Unit 2. More malfunctions followed, and the trouble was compounded by what appeared to be human error. Inside the four-foot thick concrete walls of the containment building the Unit 2 reactor was heating up and beginning to destroy its fuel. A plume of radioactive gas was released. The wind was blowing north. Continue reading “In the Wake of Japan Disaster, Must We Accept Nuclear Power?”
One of those survivors, Tsutomu Yamaguchi died just a few weeks ago. His obituary and his recollection of his experiences should be read as modern “texts of terror” and studied along side the Prophet Isaiah.
One of Yamaguchi’s conclusions in his long work against nuclear weapons was that the only people who should be allowed to govern countries with nuclear weapons are mothers who are still breast-feeding their babies. An excerpt from his obit is below:
Tsutomu Yamaguchi, the only official survivor of both atomic blasts to hit Japan in World War II, died Monday in Nagasaki, Japan. He was 93. The cause was stomach cancer, his family said.
Mr. Yamaguchi, as a 29-year-old engineer for Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, was in Hiroshima on a business trip when the United States dropped the first atomic bomb on the morning of Aug. 6, 1945. He was getting off a streetcar when the so-called Little Boy device detonated above the city.
Mr. Yamaguchi said he was less than two miles away from ground zero that day. His eardrums were ruptured, and his upper torso was burned by the blast, which destroyed most of the city’s buildings and killed 80,000 people.
Mr. Yamaguchi spent the night in a Hiroshima bomb shelter and returned to Nagasaki, his hometown, the following day, according to interviews he gave over the years. The second bomb, known as Fat Man, was dropped on Nagasaki on Aug. 9, killing 70,000 people.