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Japanese bishop warns government against nuclear power

Warning issued on eve of premier Abe's meeting with pope
Japanese bishop warns government against nuclear power

Picture: Vatican Insider/La Stampa

Published: June 06, 2014 04:47 AM GMT
Updated: June 08, 2014 09:15 PM GMT

"We are asking prime minister Shinzo Abe to abandon the way of nuclear energy. But in order to really choose an alternative route to renewable energy our people must be ready to change their lifestyle. Otherwise it is just hypocrisy".

The Japanese Bishop Isao Kikuchi touches upon a very sensitive point and denounces the risk of a purely ideological approach to the nuclear issue. A Divine Word Missionary, 56 year-old Kikuchi is the bishop of Niigata and the president of Caritas Japan, which has assumed an increasing role and prestige in  the country of the Rising Sun thanks to its efforts during the last three years after the earthquake, tsunami and disaster at the Fukushima power plant.

Approximately 267 thousand people are living in temporary shelters in the affected areas, and Caritas continues its laudable work of aid, rehabilitation of displaced persons and reconstruction, and has just announced that its support will continue for another three years.

On the eve of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's arrival at the Vatican, in an exclusive conversation with Vatican Insider bishop Kikuchi intervenes in the ongoing countrywide debate in the aftermath of the nuclear disaster which, three years from that fateful March 11, 2011, has once again returned to centre stage.

Also on account of the about-face by the Tokyo-based government; on the emotional wave of the damage caused by the Daiichi plant, the executive branch –then led by Naoto Kan– publicly announced the abandonment of nuclear energy and the launch of a plan for the conversion to renewable energy sources.

A year and a half after his rise to power, his successor Abe has clarified the vague promise of "rethinking the national energy policy in the post-Fukushima era". In the new Basic Energy Plan, presented in February 2014, nuclear power is defined as "an important source of electricity" also for the long term, and the reactivation of a dozen of the 50 nuclear reactors still shut down for upcoming renovations is planned.

Already in November 2011 the Japanese bishops officially asked for "the immediate abolishment of all the [nuclear] power plants in Japan" and to "invest in alternative energy sources". Today, faced with the blatant reversal and the nuclear choice of the Abe government, they confirm their position, without hiding perplexity and dissent.

"The national debate was serious and in depth", recalls Kikuchi, "and it involved all segments of society. The Christian Bishops and the leaders of other religious communities expressed strong support in the choice of alternative energy sources, to protect humans and the environment. Promoting renewable energy sources is the only choice we have and it is the only responsible path to follow for the good of new generations in Japan".

Furthermore, "this idea", he explains, "must go hand in hand with the reform of our lifestyle" in order to not remain a mere declaration of principle. "If we continue to maintain the current lifestyle, with a very high energy consumption, the promotion of alternative energy sources seems to me quite hypocritical. Each person must be truly willing to give up something for the common good of humans, their children and of all of God's creatures".

Full Story: Japan, the bishops to the government: it is wrong to return to nuclear power

Source:Vatican Insider/La Stampa

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