Monday, October 12, 2009

No Nukes Festa 2009 Brings Citizen Concerns to Light

The “No Nukes Festa 2009”, an event featuring live musical performances, speakers, workshops, photo exhibitions, a demonstration/parade and more, drew around 7000 people to Tokyo last Saturday, October 4th from across the country—as well as some traveling from overseas—to unite around the cause of a cleaner, safer world. Subtitled “In support of radiation-free energy," the festival was organized by a coalition of numerous citizens groups who share concerns regarding the implications of nuclear power in such areas as health, the environment, food security, and beyond.

Central to the ethos of the event was the fact that nuclear power, while often portrayed in the media as innocuous, actually emits continuous levels of radiation that pose grave threats to health and safety. Dozens of groups were on hand with literature regarding these concerns, and educational breakout sessions led by panels of on-the-ground activists were held on such topics as understanding the nuclear fuel cycle, hearing from the leaders of movements opposing nuclear power plants in their local regions, and putting together a concrete plan of action.

Several other events were also held alongside the main one over the same weekend, including a photo exhibit put on by the Chernobyl Children’s Fund, a discussion (also including international participants from Korea) regarding the proposed nuclear fuel reprocessing plant in Rokkasho-mura; meetings regarding local movements against nuclear power in Shimonoseki and Iwate; a session to discuss nuclear power in the context of global warming; and a comprehensive gathering to discuss the possibilities for creating a new energy policy that does not rely on nuclear power, nuclear fuel reprocessing, or a pluthermal program (the latter of which is explained comprehensively by Green Action here).

In addition to the serious meetings, the events also included strong elements of artistic entertainment and just pure fun. In between the scheduled speakers on the main stage, a series of musical acts performed including Zainichi (Korean-Japanese) singer Lee Jeongmi, and acoustic duos Kotobuki and Half Moon. The parade itself—which made its way from the festival site at Meiji Koen (Meiji Park) to circle around the busy districts of Harajuku and Shibuya—was also fronted by an enthusiastic samba unit that included dancing and drumming.

Also held in conjunction with the festival was the “Bee’s Café”, an affair encouraging participants to mingle with one another over coffee or tea and sweets while discussing ideas and action plans to counter the Rokkasho-mura nuclear fuel reprocessing plant and related issues (try to picture humming bees buzzing around one another, busy with important work). Describing itself as a new sort of activist concept based upon a “world café style”, the discussion at each table was facilitated by a leader in the anti-nuclear movement, and each table was then asked to report back to the rest of the group.

The café event was sponsored by the “No Nukes More Hearts” project, which grew out of an anti-nuclear parade and gathering held at Tokyo’s Hibiya park in 2007. The project website (Japanese only) explains that “anti-nuclearism is the ultimate form of ‘eco’” (with ‘eco’ being the catchword in Japan for all things related to the environment or sustainable living), and alleges that “when business and the media talk endlessly about ‘eco’ and the environment without ever mentioning the problem of radiation emissions, this is clearly not ‘eco’ at all.” Mincing no words, the site’s mission statement then goes on to say that it opposes “all forms of nuclearism—including nuclear weapons such as depleted uranium and atomic bombs,” and that it seeks to “erase the double standard around nuclearism” by “creating a new, integrated understanding of the term ‘anti-nuclearism’ which acknowledges that the ‘nuclearism’ of nuclear power and nuclear weapons are in fact one and the same.”

Look out for more from No Nukes More Hearts and the Bee’s Café, as well as from anti-nuclear activist and filmmaker Kamanaka Hitomi, whose latest film in the works “The Hum of the Honey Bee and the Rotation of the Earth,” scheduled for release in spring 2010, inspired the name of the café. The Citizen’s Nuclear Information Center profiles Kamanaka’s inspiring body of work, which includes the much acclaimed Rokkasho-mura Rhapsody, here.

The website of the Stop Rokkasho Project, a citizen movement spearheaded by musician Ryuichi Sakamoto, also gives an excellent tutorial on the dangers of the nuclear fuel cycle, as well as information on safer and cleaner alternatives.

Participant carrying poster titled "Stop the Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant...For the Future of the Children."

--Kimberly Hughes

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