Takamori Saigo (1828-1877), one of the primary players in the Meiji Restoration, taught his followers that moral principles must be the driving force of civilization. Saigo maintained that grand palaces and fancy clothing did not represent civilization.
Former Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa, co-founder of the Japan Assembly for Nuclear Free Renewable Energy, which was officially inaugurated on May 7, said he fully agrees with Saigo, and stressed that nuclear power generation is an issue that will determine the future of civilization in Japan.
Hosokawa has teamed up with another former prime minister, Junichiro Koizumi, a vocal opponent of nuclear energy. Cynics dismiss them both as has-beens, but I believe they still have the power to influence public opinion.
At the organization's inauguration ceremony, the two men said they will stay out of future elections and focus instead on collaborating with anti-nuclear power citizens groups.
They are being wise. Hosokawa's candidacy in the Tokyo gubernatorial election in February split the anti-nuke camp and cost it the election. Having obviously learned their lesson, they are now giving top priority to consolidating as broad a support base as possible for the common goal of ending nuclear power generation.
In fact, signs of such a development were already in evidence at a panel discussion, held on the sidelines of the May 7 inauguration ceremony. Panelists included psychiatrist Rika Kayama and economist Masaru Kaneko, both of whom were harsh critics of Koizumi's policies while he was in office. But now, they are working together with him toward one shared goal. Inscrutable indeed are the ways people are brought together.
Kaneko noted that the new organization "symbolizes changes in the paradigm of our era." This means that our era demands partnerships that transcend traditional political differences between conservative and liberal or right and left, and that such partnerships are actually being born now. Our civilization has been impacted by the sheer magnitude of the Fukushima nuclear crisis.
"We will work together where cooperation is possible, but will otherwise work separately," Koizumi said of the new partnership.
Not only with the nuclear energy issue, but also with any issue, it is important to have the maturity to accept other arguments and join forces when necessary.
--The Asahi Shimbun, May 9
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Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column that takes up a wide range of topics, including culture, arts and social trends and developments. Written by veteran Asahi Shimbun writers, the column provides useful perspectives on and insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.
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