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Kazuko Hamada: Lessons Learned from Hiroshima and Fukushima

Kazuko Hamada is Senior Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Planning and Coordination Office Integrated Support Center for Nuclear Nonproliferation and Nuclear Security, Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA). This article is drawn from a series on the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, "Perspectives on Hiroshima," published by the Federation of American Scientists. Read the full series here.

Nuclear energy is a double-edged sword with military applications on one side and nonmilitary ones on the other side. Enrico Fermi expressed this double-edged nature of nuclear energy as “an energy source that produces this much radioactivity and that can be subject to diversion of material for bombs.”[1] Lamentably, Japan has undergone tragedies from both sides: attacks with nuclear weapons from one side and the accident at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant (Fukushima NPP 1) on the other side. Building on this fact and the occasion of commemoration of the 67th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, I would like to discuss the lessons learned and reconsider what responsibilities Japan should bear for these tragedies.

Sixty-seven years ago, on August 6, 1945, the city of Hiroshima in Japan was attacked with a nuclear weapon, which made Japan the first country targeted by this new weapon. Three days later, another atomic bomb was dropped on the city of Nagasaki. These two atomic bombings resulted in an immediate death toll of more than 210,000 people in the two cities.[2] Understandably, these tragic events transformed Japan into a strong advocate of the total elimination of all existing nuclear weapons, claiming that Japan should be the last country to suffer from atomic bombing....

In the early 1970s, because of scarce indigenous energy resources, Japan enhanced its energy security by increasing its use of nuclear energy and by establishing a closed nuclear fuel cycle. This move came with more proactive cooperation and transparency to achieve international confidence in the peaceful nature of Japan’s nuclear activities. To this end, Japan promoted several technical projects for effective safeguards to reprocessing and enrichment activities, including the Hexapartite Safeguards Project, the Tokai Advanced Safeguards Technology Exercise, and the Large Scale Reprocessing Plant Safeguards.

In short, while the two tragic experiences in 1945 led Japan to become a proactive advocate of nuclear disarmament, these experiences also reminded Japan of its responsibility to actively demonstrate the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear activities in its need for energy security....

Read entire article at Federation of American Scientists