United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ) stands in solidarity with our many friends and allied organizations in Japan* during this extended period of unprecedented crisis. We grieve with the people of Japan and express our deepest sympathies for the tragic loss of life, habitat and infrastructure they are continuing to suffer as a result of the triple disasters – earthquake, tsunami and nuclear, than began on March 11. Two of these disasters were uncontrollable acts of nature, but one of them – the multiple failures at the Fukushima nuclear power complex, is the result of a 100% preventable act of human hubris. The 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami have left more than 12,000 dead and over 15,000 missing. As a result of the radiation releases from Fukushima, tens of thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes to makeshift shelters. In all, hundreds of thousands of people are homeless as a result of the triple ecological and humanitarian crisis. And all of these numbers keep growing. The potential for massive radiation releases from the reactors and spent fuel ponds at Fukushima will remain critical for weeks, acute for months, and dangerous to public health for years to come. This is a tragedy for the people of Japan and a wake-up call for the world.
We stand in solidarity with the hibakusha – the aging survivors of the atomic bombs dropped by the United States on Hiroshima and Nagasaki 65 years ago, who have recognized that, “Regardless of whether atomic energy is used for peaceful purposes or for destructive reasons, the result is the same and it poses serious risks to all populations.”
We stand in solidarity with Gensuikyo, the Japan Council against A& H Bombs, http://www.antiatom.org/GSKY/en/index.html which has declared: “As a movement working on the basis of the tragic experiences of Hiroshima and Nagasaki for the prevention of any more calamity and for a total ban on nuclear weapons, we… urge the Japanese government to make its all-out effort to avert the worst situation of catastrophic exposure of the entire nation to radiation…. The ongoing disaster at Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant once again shed light to the tremendous danger of continued dependence on nuclear power especially in Japan, the most earthquake-prone country of the world…. We have urged the immediate halt to the new construction of nuclear power plants, and called for an all-out examination of existing nuclear power plants…. Further, we urge it to give priority to the development and promotion of alternative energy resources.”
We stand in solidarity with the Citizens Nuclear Information Centre whose Urgent Demands Regarding the Nuclear-Earthquake Disaster at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plants, signed by 258 groups and 1010 individuals, were delivered to officials from the Japanese Agency for Natural Resources and Energy and the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency on April 4. These demands include expanding the mandatory evacuation zone around the Fukushima Daiichi Plant from 20km to 30km, establishing compensatory measures for damage due to radioactive contamination of agricultural products within and outside the 30km zone, decommissioning all the nuclear reactors of both Fukushima Daiichi and Daini Nuclear Power Plants, and immediate redirection of Japan’s energy policy to a phase out of nuclear power generation.
We stand in solidarity with the Peace Boat, whose relief teams are on the ground providing direct assistance to the Japanese survivors in the earthquake and tsunami affected region, and with Peace Boat U.S., which is raising funds to support these emergency relief efforts by their affiliate organization in Japan. Peace Boat sent advance teams to the affected areas to collect information about the damage and needs, and to deliver aid including blankets, food and masks. They also delivered meals to two hospitals where patients had run out of food. Peace Boat is currently conducting assessments of the needs and current situation in each evacuation center in the area.
Gensuikyo’s members and member organizations are also providing relief in affected communities, even as they continue their newly launched signature campaign urging the complete abolition of nuclear weapons. From the first days following the earthquake, Zenroren, a public sector labor union has been sending doctors and medical relief into devastated communities. Shinfujin, the New Japan Womens’ Association, is arranging for children in areas of continuing nuclear risk to be sheltered with their members in other parts of Japan.
Shinfujin has also appealed to its friends in the U.S. peace community to ask President Obama and Congress to end the U.S. requirement that Japanese taxpayers provide what is euphemistically called a “sympathy budget.” This allocation is roughly $2.6 billion a year and pays for Japanese workers at and upkeep of the more than 100 U.S. military bases and installations across Japan. As Shinfujin eloquently explains: “With the unprecedented scale of damage in Tohoku region… and the possible radiation contamination, we need money for the rescue work and for assisting the people who barely survived to recover. In the long run, Japan will need more and more money not only for the reconstruction of the disaster-stricken areas but also for recovering from the economic and human losses we are facing as a whole nation. We cannot afford sustaining U.S. military bases and daily life of the military families any more while we need money to help our fellow people living in sorrow, grief and fear to get back to their normal life as soon as possible, although life will not be the same as it used to be.”
UFPJ urgently calls for complete transparency and full disclosure by the Japanese and U.S. governments and the International Atomic Energy Agency regarding the status of the Fukushima nuclear facilities and the continuing radiation releases, as well as full public disclosure of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization monitoring reports of radiation plumes circling the planet that have so far been released only to the International Atomic Energy Agency and the World Health Organization, so that the abused public can make informed choices.
We call for independent safety inspections of all U.S. nuclear power plants and immediate closure of those found lacking. Local communities must be involved in assessing safety margins, such as uncertainties regarding the history of seismic activity in the region, and developing emergency and evacuation plans.
We call for cancellation of plans to build any new U.S. nuclear power plants, denial of permits for license renewals at existing plants, and phase-out and closure of all remaining plants.
We call for an end to off-shore oil drilling, mountain-top mining and “fracking” for natural gas; withdrawal from our addiction to fossil fuels, and a massive investment in clean, renewable, sustainable decentralized energy sources, including solar, wind and tidal.
We call for closure of U.S. military bases in Japan and around the world, and redirection of resources to meet human needs, including environmentally sustainable energy alternatives. And we reaffirm our call for the immediate commencement of negotiations for the verifiable, global abolition of nuclear weapons within a time bound framework.
To support direct humanitarian relief efforts in Japan, please donate to Peace Boat U.S.
Tax exempt contributions for Zenroren’s relief efforts can be sent via the U.S. United Electrical Workers Union.
*UFPJ works we many allied organizations in Japan – only a few are mentioned here. We worked closely with Gensuikyo, Shinfujin and Peace Boat in organizing the “No Nukes! No Wars!” marches and rallies in New York City in connection with the May 2005 and 2010 five-year review conferences of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.