Kazumasa Aizawa – A man to free Tokai of its nuclear burdens – Nuke Info Tokyo 76

Nuke Info Tokyo 76

Tokaimura is located in North Ibaraki prefecture near the center of Japan. This small village with a population of about 34,000 and an area of 37 square kilometres has lived with nuclear power for more than 40 years. Fifteen nuclear facilities occupy 13.4% of the village area. A third of villagers work for nuclear facilities. The village has enjoyed tax incomes from nuclear facilities, as well as many fine civic facilities and well-maintained roads.

Tokaimura has developed itself as “the Village of Nuclear Power.” It was a taboo to criticise nuclear power energy there, and it appeared as if words such as “anti-nuclear” or “nuclear phase-out” did not exist in the Tokai vocabulary.

However, the fire and explosion of the Tokai Reprocessing Plant three years ago and the recent JCO criticality accident have certainly affected villagers. This became apparent at the Village Assembly election which was held soon after the JCO accident – for the first time in a village history dominated by nuclear power, an anti-nuclear candidate, 58 year-old Kazumasa Aizawa, was elected as the Villages Assembly member.

Mr. Aizawa had been a researcher of the modern history of Japan at the Ibaraki Prefecture Historical Museum until becoming the assembly member. He had not intended to join the election until shortly before the election day. However, he was outraged that even after the JCO accident, candidates to the assembly did not talk about the danger or the rights or wrongs of nuclear power. Thus, he resigned his long-held position and stood for the election.

He has been involved with anti-nuclear movement for a long time. For example, he is the representative of plaintiffs of the Tokai II Plant Case. He is a man of gentle but strong and enduring will.

Many troubles await him as the only assembly member who advocates nuclear phase-out in Tokaimura. But I’m sure that in his effort to make Tokaimura a much safer place for its people, Mr Aizawa will lead Tokaimura in the new century from being “the village of nuclear power” to “a village of nuclear phase-out.”

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