Roger Pulvers writes: "Nothing has changed from the time of the atom bombs. ... It stands to reason that people are terrified of what they cannot see. I understand the hysteria. In the end, humans must not resort to the atom that they cannot control. The time has come for the Japanese people to make up their mind."
The nuclear disaster of 2011, with Fukushima as its ground zero, has thrown the tragedies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki into a new light.
For decades the Japanese government has striven to separate the two nuclear issues in people's minds, attempting to disassociate the atom in the bomb from the atom in the reactor. This specious policy was shattered following the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11. The bomb and the reactor are now irrevocably linked in the minds of the Japanese people.
The words forming the introduction to this week's column were spoken by Keiji Nakazawa, as reported in the Mainichi Shimbun daily newspaper on July 4. Nakazawa, known as one of Japan's foremost authors of manga, was himself a victim of the atomic bomb dropped on his hometown of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945. For decades he has been crying out to us, in both his art and his statements, that we must live in a world free of both atomic power and atomic weapons.
Nakazawa's manga, in the form of the very popular series named after its hero, Barefoot Gen, have been translated into many languages. Gen — Nakazawa's alter ego — speaks not only for the generation of Japanese who fell victim to the atomic bombs, but also for us now.
A new documentary film about Nakazawa, which opens on Aug. 6 in Tokyo and Hiroshima, could not be more timely.