Board Member’s Message
by Marleen Wallingford
How Can We Create a Nuclear-Free World:
Not Another Hiroshima, Nagasaki or Fukushima
Right: Members of the Himawari Chorus perform during the 2011 Hiroshima-Nagasaki remembrance at the Japanese Amercian Historical Plaza, Tom McCall Waterfront Park, Portland, Oregon (photo by Rich Iwasaki)
August 6th marked the 66th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and a few days later, Nagasaki. These horrific events which killed over 220,000 people was the first time that nuclear weapons were used in war. The Portland JACL partnered with Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility, the Oregon Hiroshima Club and several other organizations to commemorate this event at the Japanese American Memorial Plaza at Tom McCall Waterfront Park on Sunday, August 7th. Speakers included a hibakusha, Dr. Hideko Tamura Snider, who was 11 years old when the bomb dropped on her hometown of Hiroshima. She spoke about watching loved ones die and how imperative it is to stop the use of nuclear power for any purpose. Moderator was Rev. Joseph Santos-Lyons, coordinator of APANO. Rev. David Komeiji of the Nichiren Buddhist Temple gave the invocation. Other speakers included: Kathy Kelly, Nobel Peace Prize nominee and founder of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, Eugene Ruyle, Veterans for Peace, Sean Egusa who recently returned from volunteering in relief efforts in Japan with the Flight of Friendship and Erica Maranowski, high school student winner of the PSR Greenfield Peace Writing Contest. Entertainment was provided by Portland Taiko, the Himawari Chorus, poetry reading by Chisao Hata and performed with Michiko Kornhauser, Nola Sugai Bogle, Justin Takaha White, Yukiko Vossen and Peter Zisa. Events concluded with the rock music of the Asian American band, the Slants.
The Physicians for Social Responsibility are concerned about the negative health effects of nuclear energy. A nuclear reactor, like the one at Fukushima generates tons of high level nuclear waste annually. There is no known way to safely dispose of this waste which remains radioactive until it decays which takes 240,000 years. Seven to ten days after the atomic bomb was dropped, thousands of people began to die of radiation exposure. The accident at Chernobyl caused an estimated 16,000 deaths. Twelve miles around the Fukushima plant has been declared an exclusion zone although experts recommend that citizen’s not travel within 50 miles of the plant. So far no radiation related deaths have been reported but Fukushima workers continue to expose themselves to dangerous levels of radiation.
Despite the festive atmosphere and the beautiful summer day, serious issues were raised about how we are taking care of our planet and how we have treated our fellow man. What can you do to make the world a better and safer place? How can we create a nuclear-free world?