Call for International Solidarity The Catholic Bishops Conference of Japan is calling for an end to the use of nuclear power. We, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan, appeal to all people who share our common home called Earth that we join hands, rise together and act in solidarity to end nuclear power generation. It is unusual for the bishops of one country to address the whole world – that is usually the role of the pope. However the Japanese Bishops say that, because of their experiences, “Japan has a special responsibility to be in solidarity with all those who have suffered from nuclear radiation, calling for total nuclear disarmament and a solution to all the problems that atomic power has produced.” Their statement of 11 November 2016 recalls their initial reaction to the disaster at the Tokyo Electric Power Company’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant in March 2011. Since then their concerns have grown because of Japanese government revisions to its post-disaster regulatory standards. Although the impact of the disaster is still causing economic, social and emotional suffering, the government is gearing up to re-open nuclear plants. Different Views of Development The Bishops understand that powerful forces stand in their way. They explain: Behind all these policies to promote nuclear power generation are huge economic powers with which the government has allied itself. It is not easy to abolish nuclear power or bring about change in society when opposed by these powers that are only interested in economic benefits. Instead they advocate considering the question from the point of view of human dignity and the protection of creation. They say “we must stop and ask ourselves what sort of human development society should aim for, and what constitutes true riches. This would not be a retreat from development, but an advance toward a new abundance.” Read the Bishops’ Statements Here is the text of the 11 November 2016 statement of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Japan On the Abolition of Nuclear Power Generation: A Call by the Catholic Church in Japan Five and a Half Years after the Fukushima Dai-Ichi Nuclear Power Plant Disaster This is the initial response of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Japan on 8 November 2011 Abolish Nuclear Plants Immediately: Facing The Tragedy of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant Disaster
The Catholic Bishops Conference of Japan understands itself to have a special vocation to work for peace. They explain: “It is not based upon any political ideology. We continue to appeal for peace not as a political issue, but as a human one. Our awareness of this vocation is, of course, influenced by the horrors inflicted by nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but it is also born of deep remorse when we reflect upon the attitude of the Church in Japan before and during the war.” The statement 70 Years after the War, Blessed are the peacemakers – Now especially, peace must not depend upon weapons joins statements made by the Catholic Bishops Conference of Japan for the 50th and 60th anniversaries of the end of World War II. In it they express concern about growing nationalism in Japan and elsewhere, moves to change Japan’s Peace Constitution, and efforts to revise history. Considering the world today, they note problems of financial globalization, human generated climate change and reduction of biodiversity, and continuing problems of poverty that produce disparity and exclusion. They say that things must change: “We are each called upon to overcome our indifference to the world’s problems and change our lives. We cannot solve all the world’s problems at once, but we can patiently continue to work toward peace and mutual understanding.
The Catholic Bishops of Japan are concerned that new interpretations of the country’s Constitution undermine its Preamble and Article 9 which call for peace and renounce war. “We, the Catholic Church, are convinced that it is false to think that security can be ensured by military buildup and the use of force,” they said. Read more from UCAN News here.
“We are asking prime minister Shinzo Abe to abandon the way of nuclear energy. But in order to really choose an alternative route to renewable energy our people must be ready to change their lifestyle. Otherwise it is just hypocrisy” said Bishop Isao Kikuchi of Niigata. In an interview with Vatican Insider, Bishop Kikuchi, who is also President of Caritas Japan, explains the Catholic Church’s ongoing response to the earthquake, tsunami and disaster at the Fukushima power plant three years ago. Read more here.
The Japan Catholic Council for Justice & Peace have written to Prime Minister Abe to express their concern about the draft Special Secrets Act saying: “We, the Japan Catholic Council for Justice and Peace, oppose the draft Special Secret Bill from the standpoint of those who respect the basic principles of the Constitution of Japan and those who seek a free and peaceful society where human dignity is protected.” Read their full statement here. The statement is endorsed by 232 individuals and 30 groups.