Group Introduction The Organization of Religious Leaders Questioning the Nuclear Energy Administration Nuke Info Tokyo No. 157
by Member of the Bureau, Pastor Naito Shingo
|Representation against restart of the Ohi Nuclear Power Plant at Fukui prefectural government office on May 30, 2012.|
The Organization of Religious People Questioning the Nuclear Energy Administration is a national network of religious leaders (Buddhist, Christian, Shinto, etc.) around the country concerned about the national policy on atomic energy. In 1993, when the Monju fast breeder reactor first came close to criticality, religious leaders in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture, gathered together and set up the organization.
From the formation onwards, we have not appointed a representative; instead decision-making is carried out and the organization run through the consensus of 40 persons from around the country in the Facilitators’ Meeting. Four persons in the bureau are mostly dealing with the daily office work. We send our newsletter to around 800 persons. The Facilitators’ Meeting takes place about twice a year. Furthermore, irregularly, but once every one to two years, we organize a national meeting, usually close to the location of a nuclear power plant. For the purpose of fighting together, we want to deepen our interactions with citizens groups around the whole country.
Until now, we have made representations to operators and municipalities in regard to several locations with nuclear power plants, the reprocessing plant in Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture, or the fast breeder reactor Monju. Furthermore, we repeatedly make representations, not only to municipalities hosting nuclear power plants but also to the state.
On our side, Buddhist monks, Christian priests and leaders of other religions list their names together and gather in different religious attire. Therefore, when we make representations to the state, it seems as if the government is considerably worried. When movement groups around the country make individual representations, the officials coming to hear their plea are normally around two to four persons. However, only because it was a representation of religious leaders, when we arrived with ten persons, the other side gathered together 22 officials including people from the Cabinet Office, MITI (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry), MEXT (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology) or the Foreign Ministry to defend while showing extreme stress at our questions and opinions (1st October 2008). I think that they are afraid that the religious world will rise up against them. However, I think that in general the religious world in the country has little interest in topics such as this, despite the heavy responsibility that it bears.
After the nuclear accident in Fukushima, beyond the representation actions, we are putting a lot of effort into a child recreation project. In relation to this, we are also making representations to the state and prefectures. As an urgent issue, I feel that beginning with Fukushima, the evacuation and recreation of children in areas with high radiation doses is necessary. Since the accident, we have organized the “Hokkaido Temple School Camp” each summer, and every year around 200 children and 100 guardians come together for around ten days in about 30 temples in Hokkaido. We offer a space where at least for a little while the children can recover their immune strength, and the costs such as travel expenses are covered by fundraising around the country. If you would like to know more about the content and actions of our organization, please take a look at our homepage when you have the opportunity (only in Japanese)*.