Deadly neighbour, deadly guests

A temple of serenity stands next to a shrine to profits at any cost.

Feature story - 3 July, 2002
From the heart of an ancient temple in forested hills just in from Japans’ western coast comes an unlikely opponent to Japan's plutonium programme: Nakajima Tetsuen, Chief Priest at the 1200 year old Myotsuji temple.

Nakajima Tetsuen, anti-nuclear activist

There is a dramatic contrast between the tranquility and antiquity of the temple, and the nearby Takahama nuclear power plant with its controversial involvement in the production, trade and use of weapons-usable plutonium fuel. It is in Takahama that two British freighters will imminently load up with their deadly cargo of faulty plutonium and head back to Sellafield, UK.

On the one hand, there is Nakajima Tetsuen, who is concerned for people worldwide who are put at huge risk by the unecessary production and transport of plutonium. On the other hand, there are British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL), the Japanese nuclear utility Kansai Electric, and the UK and Japanese governments, who put millions of people at danger worldwide with these shipments.

Tetsuen is one of the principle members of the local Obama anti-nuclear group (Citizens Against Nuclear Reactor Establishment). For the past few years the group has sought to prevent the loading of plutonium material into the Kansai Electric reactors at the Takahama nuclear site. In recent months the scandal of the rejected mixed-oxide (MOX) plutonium produced by British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL) has become a major issue of concern for Tetsuen and his colleagues. Together with the Takahama citizens' group, there have been many discussions about the plans to ship the plutonium from Japan back to the UK.

The words of the Obama citizens group say it all - they are deeply concerned about the safety of Japan's plutonium programme and the effects it has on people locally, throughout Japan, and around the world. They´re also aware of the contamination and health effects caused by the reprocessing of Japanese nuclear waste at the Sellafield nuclear complex in Cumbria, UK. Sellafield has sparked concern and opposition not just in the UK but also in neighbouring countries contaminated by radioactivity discharged from the facility. Recently the Irish Government took a legal case against the UK's approval of the new Sellafield MOX Plant, and Irish citizens delivered 1 million postcards of protest to the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair.

Martin Forwood from the UK group Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment (CORE) , recently visited Nakajima to form links between the two communities who live in the deadly shadow of these nuclear facilities.

Myotsuji Temple has stood for 1200 years. As the voices of protest from Japan to Ireland are demanding, it´s time for Myotsuji´s nuclear neighbour to go, and for its unwelcome maritime guests to stop visiting.

See also:

Japanese anti-nuclear activists in UK embassy protest visit.

Obama statement in opposition to the shipment

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