Japan's anti-nuclear movement has a new supporter: bestselling nationalist "manga" author Yoshinori Kobayashi, known for his controversial defense of Tokyo's wartime aggression, has joined the growing ranks of those who want the country to end its reliance on atomic power in the wake of the Fukushima crisis.
The attack from an unexpected quarter comes as Japan tries to decide the role nuclear energy should play in a new national energy portfolio amid growing pressure from voters worried about safety after last year's Fukushima atomic disaster, the world's worst in a quarter of a century.
"Shouldn't Japan immediately abandon the old science of nuclear power that ... is linked to the destruction of the nation, and carry out an energy revolution leading the world?" writes Kobayashi in the afterword to his latest work, a 360-page tome that hit bookstores on Aug. 24.
His backing for the anti-nuclear cause reflects the broadening of the base of a movement traditionally linked with left-leaning activists.
"Some in the very right wing of conservative thinkers have become anti-nuclear after 3/11," said Sophia University professor Koichi Nakano.
"The Friday protests also have some right-wingers. It's not just lefties," he said. Anti-nuclear protests outside Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's office each Friday have become a feature of Japanese political life.
The March 11, 2011 giant earthquake and tsunami devastated the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant northeast of Tokyo, triggering meltdowns, spewing radiation and forcing about 160,000 people to flee, many never to return home.
Kobayashi first won fame in the 1990s with a series of comics which presented in manga cartoon style the argument made by ultra-conservative politicians and scholars that Japan's belligerence in the 1930s and 1940s was aimed at liberating Asia from Western imperialism, and denying wartime atrocities.
Echoing other nuclear critics, Kobayashi's manga takes aim at Japan's "nuclear village", a powerful nexus of politicians, utilities and bureaucrats, backed by the media, who for decades promoted nuclear energy as safe, cheap and clean.
He also dismisses the argument made by Japan's business lobbies that the resource-poor economy will suffer if the country shuts down the reactors that before Fukushima supplied almost 30 percent of electricity needs.
"Morality and economic growth are possible without nuclear power," he concludes.
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