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US Nuclear Technology as a Cure for Japanese Ignorance? via Japan Focus

Scholars have long recognized that the United States government and bureaucracy considered Japanese anti-nuclear sentiments in the 1950s to be irrational prejudices working against American interests or even part of an anti-American communist conspiracy. In the wake of the Lucky Dragon No. 5 incident of 1954 in which 23 Japanese fishermen were hit with fallout from the Bikini Atoll hydrogen bomb test, United States Atomic Energy Commission head Lewis Strauss claimed that the fishermen, one of whom died from radiation exposure, were a “red spy outfit” who had either faked their injuries or deliberately sought to be irradiated to discredit the America’s atomic weapons program. There were also efforts to control the release of Bikini fallout information to the Japanese public.

Now, documents located at the US National Archives and publicized by Japan’s Kyodo News provide insight into how the Japanese public, still struggling with the legacies of the atomic bombings and the new military partnership with the US, was convinced to accept American nuclear power technology as a major part of their country’s energy strategy. With the legacy of decisions made in the 1950s now being felt in the form of the Fukushima Daiichi crisis, Kyodo’s exposé of the intimate connections between American atomic weapons strategy and the promotion of nuclear energy could not be more timely.

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