November 25, 2019
TOKYO (AFP) – Pope Francis called on Monday (Nov 25) for renewed efforts to help victims of Japan’s 2011 “triple disaster” of earthquake, tsunami and the Fukushima meltdown, noting “concern” in the country over the continued use of nuclear power.
On the penultimate day of his long-cherished trip, Pope Francis had an emotional encounter with survivors of that fateful day on March 11, 2011, when a 9.0-magnitude earthquake followed by a 17m-high tsunami devastated much of north-eastern Japan and killed nearly 16,000 people.
The 82-year-old pontiff paid tribute to those who rushed to the assistance of the victims “with outpourings of prayers and material and financial aid”.
“We should not let this action be lost with the passage of time or disappear after the initial shock; rather, we should continue and sustain it,” Pope Francis said.
The wave swept away everything before it, washing away people, buildings and farms, and also damaging cooling systems at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, sparking the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.
Nearly half a million people fled their homes in the first days after the quake, and even today, roughly 50,000 remain in temporary housing.
The pope heard harrowing testimony from survivors of that day, such as Ms Toshiko Kato, who headed a Catholic kindergarten and lost her home in the tsunami.
“I remember that when I stood in the rubble where my home had been. I was thankful for being given life, for being alive and for just being able to appreciate it,” she told the pope.
“Through this earthquake, I received much more than I lost. Many people from all over the world opened their hearts and I was able to find hope from seeing people come together to help one another.”
However, the head of the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics noted that some of those feel “forgotten” and face ongoing issues of contaminated land and the long-term effects of radiation.
The pope stopped short of intervening in the debate over nuclear power in Japan, merely noting that bishops in the country have called for atomic plants to be shelved.
“In turn, this involves, as my brother bishops in Japan have emphasised, concern about the continuing use of nuclear power; for this reason, they have called for the abolition of nuclear power plants.”
In 2016, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan made a statement saying: “What Japan has experienced in the five-and-a-half years since the Fukushima disaster convinces us that we must inform the world of the hazards of nuclear power generation and appeal for its abolition.”
Later Monday, the pope, who has described his feelings of “fondness and affection” for Japan, will hold a Mass in the huge Tokyo Dome stadium and hold private talks with Japan’s new Emperor Naruhito and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
There are also rumours he may meet a death row convict and make comments criticising the death penalty, which is carried out in Japan with significant public support.
The emotional centrepiece of his four-day trip was his initial trip to Nagasaki, a city forever associated with the dropping of a nuclear bomb that eventually killed at least 74,000 people.
There, the Argentine lashed out at the concept of nuclear deterrence and prayed in the rain for the victims of those killed in the “unspeakable horror” of the bomb.
He then travelled to Hiroshima, the first city to suffer an atomic attack, where he denounced as a “crime” the use of nuclear power as a weapon.
In both cities, he met people who survived the bombings, and listened to their tales of the horror.
Pope Francis attends a meeting for peace at the memorial cenotaph at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Japan, on Nov 24, 2019.
The final day of his trip on Tuesday takes in meetings with young students at Sophia University before he concludes his Asian tour.
The first leg of the tour was in Thailand – like Japan, a country with a small Catholic minority. There are an estimated 440,000 Japanese Catholics.
cities in radioactive shithole mirica are getting scarey.
I saw a really sad tragic movie called the last christmas. the movie is supposed to be a romantic comedy. its was a very good movie but i think the british and american societies know how fucked up things are. The cognitive dissonance, the anxiety, the desparate poverty that u feel and see everywhere. The unravelling, is reflected in what they pass as comedy. i met some kids from london where the film was made a few years ago. They said there are ungodly numbers of homeless people in london sleeping outside in that cold rainy city. it is worse now. Another country run by fascist plutocrats. the protagonist asian guy in the film remilds me of sean mcgee who was a computer guy and scocial worker in london. Sean had to flea england because spycops harrassed him into oblivion for his antinuclear activity, post Fukushima.
The fascist nuclearists are winning.
I saw that Iori had posted this year on Fukushima diary. He is a brave soul.
Radionuclide levels in greater japan are at lethal levels.
Scintillatotrs and gamma spectrometry are relativley cheap now. People would be amazed, at how radionuclide contaminated the USA is now. Especially by places like Hanford and, by nuclear reactors: 8,753 Bq/kg Americium found at landfill by Hanford, at Richland Washington 721Bq/kg Tritium detected. 275 Bq/kg Plutonium 238 detected
there will be one or major nuclear accidents in the usa in the next 6 to 12 months. perhaps in japan as well. no one seems to care