NAGASAKI--With "The road to nuclear weapons abolition" as its theme, the annual International Symposium for Peace, held alternately in Nagasaki and Hiroshima, has offered a venue for calls to scrap the world's nuclear arsenals.
But at this year's event, held in a city that was leveled by atomic bombing in 1945, the concerns of panelists and 300 spectators kept returning to the unprecedented 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima Prefecture.
In his keynote speech titled "War and literature," bestseller novelist Jiro Asada, president of the Japan P.E.N. Club, said July 28 that the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant made it imperative for Japan to rethink its reliance on "civilian utilization of nuclear power."
"We thought we could overcome our fear of nuclear weapons through so-called 'peaceful utilization of nuclear power,' but that idea is already betrayed," Asada said.
The writer also raised what he called his "fundamental question": the wisdom of bringing inactive nuclear plants back online.
"The resumption of the (Oi) nuclear plant solved electricity shortage, so why do we need to resume reactors one after another?" Asada asked.
"It must be also questioned why we have 50-plus offline reactors, although we are doing fine with just one nuclear plant."
During the panel discussion, Nobumasa Akiayama, an associate professor of Hitotsubashi University and researcher with the Independent Investigation Commission on the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Accident, said Japan must fully reflect the fact that it is responsible for a nuclear disaster that is affecting every region of the world.
"It became clear that Japan failed to learn from safety lessons from the Three Mile Island accident and the Chernobyl disaster, and unfortunately, many countries planning to expand nuclear power generation are reluctant to learn lessons from Fukushima, because it would mean they need to impose tighter regulatory measures," Akiyama said. "We are now asked to solve this problem."
Other speakers at the symposium included Bruce Blair, president of World Security Institute and executive producer of the 2010 documentary film "Countdown to Zero" as well as Shen Dingli, a professor of international relations at Fudan University in China, and Keiko Nakamura, a nuclear disarmament expert at Nagasaki University.
Details of the discussion will run on AJW later.
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