As the world nears the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6th and 9th, some of the individuals who survived the horror of nuclear detonation are speaking out against the continued proliferation of nuclear energy.
With strong backing from President Shinzo Abe, Japan is set to restart its nuclear power program on August 10th, beginning with the Kyushu Electric Power Company's Sendai plant in the southwestern prefecture. It will mark the first restart since the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011.
The convergence of the two events has prompted a number of Japanese survivors to come forward.
"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," 87-year-old Atsushi Hoshino told Reuters, speaking from his home in Fukushima City, which is roughly 37 miles from the Fukushima Daiichi plant.
Hoshino said that until the recent disaster he "felt somewhat uncomfortable about nuclear power, but ... was in a situation where it wasn't possible to oppose it."
Japan is not alone in its support of nuclear energy. Often framed as a "green" alternative to fossil fuels, nuclear power stations are in operation in more than 30 countries, with more being built.
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Hoshino is not alone, either. A group of survivors now living in Brazil has organized a victims group that works to raise public awareness about the risks of nuclear plants and waste. Takashi Morita, who was 21 years old when the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, was one of the founding members of the group.
"I experienced the bomb. I saw many die. I have lived until now with a spirit dedicated to ensuring humanity never again sees such a terrible thing," Morita told the Guardian. Together, the two bombs—known as "Little Boy" and "Fat Man"—killed approximately 450,000 people and injured countless more.
Another survivor and São Paulo resident Junko Kosumo added: "Many people don’t know that radiation is so close to our lives. People must be aware of it, what radiations are and what kind of effect they have in our body. We must pass on [what we know of the risks] to future generations."
In a blog post on Wednesday, Junichi Sato, executive director at Greenpeace Japan, comments on the parallel paths of destruction Japan, and the world, currently faces.
"We’ve seen the effects of war. We’ve seen the effects of nuclear," Sato writes.
If anything, Sato continues, the anniversary of the bombings reminds the world "of the consequences of nuclear energy" and the need to "create a safer and sustainable future for the people of Japan and the world."