Monday, January 9, 2012

A Nuclear Power Free World is Possible- Conference Jan 14-15 Yokohama

A nuclear power free Japan and a nuclear power free world are possible. This weekend over 8000 people will gather in Yokohama Japan to share information on how to make this attainable goal a reality. Growing out of a coalition of Japan-based NGOs including the Citizens' Nuclear Information Centre (CNIC), FoE Japan, Green Action, Greenpeace Japan, the Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies (ISEP), and Peace Boat, the Global Conference for a Nuclear Power Free World will:

  • bring together the voices of people who suffer from radiation exposure all around the world, whether by nuclear power or nuclear weapons - “Global Hibakusha”.
  • facilitate the sharing of information with one another. Participants will learn from each other's experiences to illustrate the human and environmental consequences of the nuclear chain.
  • aim to demonstrate that it is realistically possible to create a society that is not dependent on nuclear power.
  • create a road map for the safe removal of existing nuclear power plants.
  • present alternative policies based on renewable energy and propose action plans that can be implemented by Japan and other countries.
Mémé Madoka Watanabe, a Peace Boat staffer coordinating publicity within the Japanesecommunity shared some insight on Peace Boat's involvement in organizing the conference:
The Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, and the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, have both had a dramatic impact around the world. In response to this massive disaster and its tragic consequences to people's lives and environment, the people of Japan are trying to take steps towards recovery. Meanwhile, the nuclear power plant is still unstable and workers are forced to continue working in life-threatening conditions. As the radioactive contamination spreads, many people including children are forced to suffer from prolonged radiation exposure, unable to evacuate due to lack of support from the government.

It is vital that we do not continue to make the same mistakes. It is now time for humanity to put an end to the nuclear age that started with Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In Japan, well over half the population now supports the goal of breaking away from nuclear power. However, many people question whether it is practically possible to bring nuclear power to an end.

For these reasons and more, a coalition of Japan-based Peace Boat is acting as the secretariat for the conference on behalf of the coalition of Japan based NGO's.
Watanabe stressed how the event is a positive step for the world to move towards eliminating nuclear power as an option:
This event will be an important and positive step for Japan and other countries towards taking action for a nuclear power free world. The presence of both organizations and independent citizens will show that efforts since the disaster to learn from Fukushima have not gone unnoticed. We aim to learn from Fukushima, exchange lessons about nuclear power from around the world and make clear the need to break away from nuclear power. It is also a chance for us to show the people of Fukushima, many of whom feel despondent about the future, that positive action is being taken.The conference will bring together ideas from around the globe to propose action plans that can be carried out by Japan and other countries all over the world.
She also noted how the conference is an outgrowth of other related Peace Boat activities:
Activities such as the Global Voyage for a Nuclear Free World - Peace Boat Hibakusha Project, bringing survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings around the world to give testimony and advocate for nuclear abolition, while meeting with people affected by the nuclear chain around the world, have contributed to public education about the need to move towards a nuclear free world. Peace Boat also carries out other activities promoting nuclear weapon free zones, disarmament for development, and more.

Since March 17, 2011 in the immediate aftermath of the disaster, Peace Boat has been active in Ishinomaki, Miyagi prefecture, one of the hardest hit cities on the coast of northeast Japan. Peace Boat is acting in a coordination role between Ishinomaki’s local government and the many NGOs, institutions and individuals offering help in the area and dispatching volunteers each week. With 10,000 volunteers to date. Some of the relief and recovery activities include preparing and serving hot meals, delivering relief goods, cleaning mud out of homes and businesses and salvaging fishing equipment.More recently volunteers have been supporting the communities in the Temporary Houses by distributing a newsletter and becoming part of the community as well as helping to identify and serve their needs. Their presence not only supports the physical recovery of the towns but also gives the local community the encouragement to rebuild.
- Posted by Jen Teeter

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