Buddhist Monks at Eiheiji Temple Raise an Alarm over Nuclear Power: Cherish Our Lives – The way of living that we don’t choose nuclear power generation.


PK2011100702100109_size0      This is today’s article on the Chunichi. (Translated by moshimoshimo)

     Buddhist Monks at Eiheiji Temple Raise an Alarm over Nuclear Power

     Some priests at Eiheiji Temple, which is one of the head temples of Soto Zen (school) in Fukui Prefecture, hosted a symposium on denuclearization on November 2nd. On the other hand, the Noda Administration has resumed operation at the Genkai Nuclear Power Plant (Kyusyu Electric Power Company) and reconfirmed the export of nuclear power generation system to Vietnam. Supporters of nuclear power plants are now hitting rewind, but the symposium with citizens and Buddhist monks might trigger a change in our way of living.

     The elegant image of Guanyin, the Mercy Goddess, on the wall scroll in the middle of the stage was attracting the attention of the audience. There burning incense sticks and candles were in front of the picture, and the sound of reciting the sutras was filled with the place. The symposium – Cherish Our Lives ~ The Way of Living that We don’t Choose Nuclear Power Generation~ began.

     About 300 people including priests got together at the place. The speakers were Mr. Kenichi Hasegawa, 58, the cattle farmer in Fukushima, and Tetsuen Nakajima, 69, the chief priest at Myotsuji Temple in Fukui, who has kept on leading the movement against nuclear power generation for more than 40 years.

     Mr. Hasegawa told about lives in Iidate-mura village, Fukushima after the accident, showing images on the screen. “When I measured radiation dose around my house, the meter indicated over 100 micro Sv and went off the scale. Nevertheless, the government forbid me to say anything about the high levels of radiation to people and invited some experts who just kept saying, “It’s safe,” and they never let people evacuate.”

     He made a heartbreaking decision to destroy his cattle and leave his hometown. He has lost everything he has built for 35 years of his life. One of his friends, who was also a cattle farmer, hang himself, leaving the dying message, “If there had be no nuclear power plant…” An old man at the age of 102 killed himself because he did not want to act as a drag when his family took shelter. As Mr. Hasegawa was talking, some people sobbed in the audience. “Pigs are eating bodies of starved cows. That’s the actual condition in Iidate now,” said Mr. Hasegawa.

     Next, Priest Nakajima pointed out the “sin” of the nuclear power plant which has made more than 470,000 workers exposed to radiation for 40 years. He claimed, “At the root of this problem, Japan has walked the path of modernization by making “Escaping Asia for Europe” its national policy without looking at the negative side. We should start with transforming our societies away from being wasters of energy.”

     Mrs. Yoko Watanabe, 62, a participant at the symposium in Fukui, said, “Many meetings for anti-nuke have been held here and there, but today’s one is meaningful because it’s held by a Buddhist temple.” There are, however, many nuclear power plants along Wakasa Bay, and lots of Soto Zen believers work at those plants. That is why, most people involved in the nuclear power plants said in a passive tone about denuclearization.

     Some journalists asked the relation between Eiheiji Temple and the nuclear power plants at the news conference after the symposium. There is an episode about naming the prototype fast-breeder reactor Monju and the advanced thermal reactor Fugen. Both reactors are in Fukui Prefecture, and Monju and Fugen are names of Bodhisattvas. The previous chairman of Power Reactor and Nuclear Fuel Development Corporation has visited the temple and said, “We named the reactors Monju and Fugen because we want to get the power from those Bodhisattvas.” At that time, the Zen Master at the temple replied, “That’s nice.” Journalists asked the temple, “Does it mean the temple accepted the nuclear power plants?” Priest Matsubara answered to the question, “No, we don’t think so. But it is true that we have not done anything about the nuclear power generation. We have realized that the nuclear power generation goes against life on the earth.”

     Priest Wajo Kansya in Fukuoka Prefecture, acclaimed the symposium, saying, “It’s unprecedented. I think Eiheiji Temple did a great thing.” He leads denuclearization under his wife influence, who published a book on anti-nuke after the nuclear accident in Chernobyl in 1987. He said, “The movement of rethinking about the nuclear power generation has begun in the world of Buddhists, not only in Soto Zen. I have a high degree of expectation for the movement.”

5 responses »

  1. It’s unfortunate you are blaming the technology rather than the TEPCO management. The simple act of putting the diesel backup generators on high ground and the residual heat would never have got of control and the shut down reactors would never have had a melt down. These reactors were out of date technology and should have been decommissioned already. New installation nearer the fault shutdown successfully without incident. Demonizing nuclear power isn’t the answer. All you end of doing is importing polluting fuels like natural gas from places like the US where fracking chemicals are contaminating the water supply. And then pumping more CO2 in the atmosphere aggravating climate change which is destroying habitats globally. There are better ways forward, using newer generation 3 systems and even better generation 4 passive safety systems (see energyfromthorium.com) which would have made the human mistakes that happened at Fukushima impossible to cause what happened. Denuclearization is not the answer.

    • Dear kbsamurai,
      Thank you for the comment. How wonderful that would be if we could keep using nuclear power plants without any worry…I don’t know where you live in, but Japanese people now are facing radioactive pollution problems. Many foods have been contaminated since the accident in Fukushima. It’s not only in Japan, but it’s also speared out to all over the world. I’m very sorry about it. Japan is a resourceless country. Before the accident, nuclear power was a kind of dreamy and future thing for the Japanese: No CO2 emission, no dioxin, save our limited natural resources, etc…But Japan hasn’t had the technical capabilities to control nuclear power completely and isn’t a right place to build those plants because of the land of earthquake. “Monju”, the prototype fast-breeder reactor what I wrote, is located in Fukui Prefecture, in which there was a 4.8-magunitude earthquake just three days ago. Actually, we have an earthquake almost every day here in Japan…Besides, “Monju” cost about 1 trillion yen for the project, but it was used only about 200 days in 17 years. It’s not used now, but it needs over 20 billion yen a year for maintaining…Under present circumstances, Japan is still a long way from using nuclear power skillfully, and should seek more safe and earth-conscious generating ways like solar light or geothermal heat.

      • It may have been a dreamy and future thing for the Japanese, but unfortunately they bought in to the designs GE and Westinghouse settled on the 1960’s when the actual inventer of that design was against using it as the basis for civilian power generation and had better, safer ideas. Even so the plants that failed in Japan were 1970’s technology, while the plants that did not fail and did shutdown correctly at Daini were 1980’s technology. That right there disproves your thesis that Japan hasn’t the technical capability. I thing the approach is fundamentally the wrong design, but I can’t argue that AP-1000 and the latest post 1980’s designs have built in better safety. So again I disagree with the idea that Japan hasn’t had the technical capabilities. I would put the blame squarely with the group consensus management culture along with the way too close relationship between TEPCO and the government, in getting very sloppy with managing an out of date plant that was originally scheduled to be decommissioned about 8 years ago.

        “Monju” is unfortunately again a case where Japan is choosing the wrong nuclear technology to go with. Fast Breeder’s are inherently unstable and require a lot of active systems to keep safe. Fast breeder’s is not a good engineering choice if safety is the first priority. That’s an engineering decision based on history of choosing uranium-plutonium fuel cycles. Thermal breeder reactors would be the choice as they are inherently stable but would require a brave decision to abandon the current nuclear technology. Something that China, Australia, Czech Republic, and US private company is seriously pursuing. Working commercial prototypes will probably take about 5 billion US dollars and 5 years or so to develop. Building them will be a far lower cost affair than fast breeders because the physics favors safety.

        You do realize that geothermal power plants are sources of radium and have to work at not releasing too much radiation. Building a lot more geothermal plants could lead to more instability in a land as geologically active as Japan. Japan derives only 0.2 percent of its electricity from geothermal plants at 18 sites currently. That’s around 1800 geothermal plants to get to 20%. Really? 80 percent of the potential sites are inside Japanese national parks, mostly in the northern Tohoku region, Hokkaido, and a bit on Kyushu to the south. It costs around $3.5 million and takes five years to explore and develop the average generator, the major cost involving drilling and exploration, then construction so that the heated liquid drives a turbine to produce electricity. Because of the layers of Japanese bureaucracy and legal restraints, it actually takes around 10 years from inception to operation. The Japanese research budget for geothermal was eliminated in 2003, and only a trickle has been restored.

        An economic disaster like Spain…legislation will become effective on July 1, 2012, and require utilities to buy electricity generated by renewable sources including solar, wind and geothermal at above-market rates. A massive increase in solar PV would require massive rare earth mining in China and increase the toxic waste streams.

        Japan unfortunately again making bad management decisions on nuclear and may kill their economy for good. Sad really. Also your statement ” it’s also speared out to all over the world” is technically correct but from health standpoint, has zero impact. The contamination in Japan is more a psychological issue than it is a health issue as most don’t understand the nature of the contamination and much of the reporting has been ill-informed and based a false model. Good luck. And to let you know, I’m in Texas where energy companies are getting all excited about selling Japan natural gas.

  2. Also, the monk should realize that his statement is complete nonsense. “We have realized that the nuclear power generation goes against life on the earth.” Without nuclear power, the gravity contained fusion bomb we call the sun would not exist and all life would die. Without the radiation from thorium and uranium in the earth heating the core of the planet, the earth’s nickel-iron core would have long ago solidified and stopped spinning and the strong magnetic field protect life on Earth would not exist and the planet would by now be dead. Thorium are uranium radiation are what keep the magma molten and allow there to geothermal power (which is really an indirect use of nuclear power). Radiation is indirectly heating the onsen.

    • Dear kbsamurai
      Thank you for visiting my site and writing your sincere comment again. I’m not a scientist or engineer or specialist on nuclear power. So, I don’t know how much credible the technical things and numerical number you mentioned are. Let’s say you are right. Even so, the horrible accident happened in actuality. No matter how the design is good and people have advanced technology, we couldn’t prevent the accident and have been struggling to control Fukushima 1 Nuclear Power Plant since March. It was just revealed two days ago that the fuel had dropped into the containment vessel and had melted 65 cm the concrete floor down and been closed to 37 cm from the outer shell in the #1 building. It means even decommissioning is difficult. Nuke is beyond control for at least Japan. You wrote that Japan may kill economy by the decision on nuclear power, but I say more like that the country may capitalize on the shift on natural energy.

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