8/9/16 , at Lawrence Livermore Lab (Chizu Hamada speech)
Ohayou gozaimasu! Good morning!
In 1974, I left my life in Japan to come to the United States. For over 40 years now, I
have called the Bay Area my home. I live in Berkeley, and I love it there. This is where I
met my husband and raised my children. And this is where I’ve made many friends,
many of whom I see in front of me right now.
But as I stand here today, in front of the Lawrence Livermore Lab, I cannot help but
think about the atrocities that took place in Japan 71 years ago, and the path that led to
a nuclear dependent Japan.
In August of 1945, the United States dropped two atomic bombs on Japan. Within six
months, over 200,000 people were dead, and to this day, over 600,000 people have
died. To put that in context, more people were killed in the Hiroshima and Nagasaki
bombs than the entire population of Oakland and Berkeley combined. Imagine that for a
moment, everyone you know in Oakland and Berkeley, GONE forever. Thousands dead
instantly, their shadows cast upon the ruins of buildings. Even more in hospitals, their
skin crackling from burns, their insides sick from radiation. And the children, their futures
destroyed like everything else.
Japan knows the horror. They experienced the destructive effects of nuclear weapons,
of isotopes and uranium and plutonium and radioactive material. They, of all countries,
should understand its catastrophic effects.
Well, Japan is an ironic country. Instead of learning from history, instead of running
AWAY from the horrors of August 1945, they have run TOWARDS nuclear power,
towards a Japan that is dependent on this abomination. Today, nuclear power plants are
littered all over Japan to be restarted.
And the irony doesn’t stop there. It was the United States who dropped those bombs on
Japan, and today it’s the United States who pushes for a nuclear Japan. It wasn’t
enough to kill hundreds of thousands of people. The United States has profited from
Japan’s nuclear path, and it is the Japanese people, once again, who must pay the
On March 11th, 2011, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and the following tunami destroyed
the Fukushima Daichi power plant, and three reactors were melted down. Even 5 and a
half years later, the Japanese people are STILL paying for this calamity. They finally
found the melted core of one of three reactors recently, but still don’t know how to
retrieve or contain it. Nearly 1000 contaminated water tanks are filling up in the Daiichi
facility lot. The Ice-wall is not entirely blocking the contaminated water, which seeps into
the ocean. Thyroid cancer amongst children is increasing, now over 170 children have
the cancer or suspected to have it. The Japanese government is declaring some areas
safe, and forcing the evacuees to go back, so that compensations can be cut. But it’s
very clear that the area is NOT safe, and may never be.
President Obama visited Hiroshima last May as a tribute to atomic bombs victims, but
he didn’t offer any apology. He called for a world free of nuclear weapons, but he leads
a country that spends to create even more nuclear warheads. Did his visit make this
world one step closer to nuclear disarmament? No. In fact, his visit strengthened the tie
with the Abe government which is pushing Japan towards militarism. Abe’s governing
party and allies took two third of upper house seats in last July’s election after Obama’s
visit. Prime Minister Abe is sending hundreds of special military to Takae in Okinawa to
suppress the protesters against building the USA army helicopter pads and to Henoko
against building a new base. The alliance between the Obama and Abe administration
is NOT about peace. It is about power. We should not be fooled.
Like many Japanese citizens, I have learned that we can not coexist with nuclear plants.
But the Abe government will never give up nuclear energy and they are pushing to
restart even more plants. The government is crushing the majority of Japanese people’s
voices against militarism and nuclear energy. Why? Because Abe government wants
Japan to step forward to a military country like the USA and wants to make nuclear
weapons in the near future. Japan needs to operate nuclear plants in order to enrich
uranium and plutonium.
As I stand here today, I can feel the many spirits of Hiroshima, Nagasaki, the Marshal
Islands and Fukushima. They are here with us now. They are watching us and they are
encouraging us to fight.
What we do here today and in the future matters. The past must be remembered. The
catastrophes of history must not be forgotten. On this day and everyday we fight for a
world without nuclear weapons and nuclear energy.
written by NNA member Chizu Hamada