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Japan A-bomb survivors speak out against nuclear power, decry Abe’s view of war via Reuters

When Atsushi Hoshino set out to revive a group representing atomic bomb survivors in the rural northeast Japanese prefecture of Fukushima 30 years ago, one topic was taboo – criticizing the nuclear power industry upon which many relied for jobs.

That changed dramatically after March 11, 2011, when a massive tsunami devastated the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, triggering meltdowns, spewing radiation and forcing tens of thousands of residents to flee their homes.

“Until then …I felt somewhat uncomfortable about nuclear power, but not enough to oppose it. Rather, I was in a situation where it wasn’t possible to oppose it,” Hoshino, 87, told Reuters at his home in Fukushima City, about 60 km (37 miles)from the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi plant, the country’s first commercial nuclear plant when it went online in 1971.

Now, Hoshino, a survivor of the Aug. 6, 1945, U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima, is among the majority of Japanese who oppose Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s plan to reboot reactors taken offline after the Fukushima disaster. Kyushu Electric Power Co’s Sendai plant in southwestern Japan is expected to resume operations on Aug. 10, the first to do so in nearly two years.

“I think that since the risk of nuclear power and the fact that human beings cannot control it has become clear, none of the reactors should be restarted,” Hoshino said.

Akira Yamada, chairman of Fukushima’s atomic bomb survivors group, says he reached a similar conclusion. Still, both men are wary of comparing the risks of nuclear power to the horror of atomic weapons.

“There is a difference between military use and peaceful use,” Yamada, who like Hoshino became a professor at Fukushima University after the war and later served as its president, told Reuters.

[…]

Like many “hibakusha” survivors, Yamada, Hoshino and Kohata are harsh critics of Abe, whose conservative agenda includes easing the constraints of Japan’s pacifist, post-war constitution on the military and adopting a less apologetic tone over the war.

Abe is set to mark the 70th anniversary of the war’s end with a statement that some fear will dilute past apologies.

“If you delve into the atomic bombings which had such inhumane results, it was because we fought that … war of aggression,” Yamada said, calling Japan’s wartime leaders “murderers”. “But Mr. Abe is not delving deeply.”

Hoshino was even blunter. “I don’t think Shinzo Abe … truly recognizes that the war was a criminal war of aggression.”

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