Anti-Nuke Who’s Who Yoshitaka Mukohara, A person who lives with nature and who stands against nuclear power plants with an easy-going style Nuke Info Tokyo No. 162
by Hiroharu Tsuzuki*
Mr. Mukohara is top left. The sign says, “We cannot coexist with nuclear power”
Yoshitaka Mukohara was born in 1957 in Hiyoshi-cho, Hioki City, Kagoshima Prefecture. After graduating from the Faculty of Agriculture of Kyoto University and working in Tokyo, he returned to Kagoshima in 1992. At the age of 36, he established Nanpō Shinsha Co., Ltd., a publishing company, in Kagoshima, and became its representative director. While running the business, he organized a group against nuclear power generation, the Kagoshima Anti-Nuclear Network, in 1996. As the former secretary-general of the group, he has been leading the anti-nuke movement and bravely struggling against the pro-nuclear energy national government and electric power capital, with the slogan: “We don’t need nuclear power plants in our pleasant hometowns.” Today he is the president of the Network and operates as the core of the local anti-nuclear movement, which consists of different political parties and groups, to prevent the restart of Kyushu Electric Power Company’s Sendai Nuclear Power Station, now being given a higher priority than the restart of any other NPS in Japan.
Mr. Mukohara is tall, 184 cm. Unshaven, with a towel around his neck, and wearing rubber-soled workers’ shoes, he may look rustic at first glance. However, Nanpō Shinsha, which he runs, has shown an outstanding capability to plan and publish books compared with other rurally-based publishers in this country. In spite of the rustic appearance, Mr. Mukohara is an intellectual. While being a leader in the anti-nuclear movement, he maintains a relaxed atmosphere, which attracts men as well as women. On holidays he labors in the fields, raising potatoes, sweet potatoes, ginger, mustard spinach, and potherb mustard. He is also engaged in rice and duck farming. Such a lifestyle is reflected in his appearance. Let me add that Mr. Mukohara loves shochu (a Japanese distilled beverage).
The severe accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, which followed the great earthquake on March 11, 2011, revealed that if an accident occurs at the Sendai NPS, it will spread radioactive fallout over a large area, covering all of Kagoshima Prefecture, far beyond the boundaries of Satsuma Sendai City, where the NPS is based. The NPS thus poses the threat of completely destroying the entire regional community. Mr. Mukohara stood as a candidate in the election for the Kagoshima prefectural governor in July 2012. At that time, pressure for the restart of Sendai NPS Units 1 and 2 was building and voices clamoring for a new Sendai Unit 3 reactor were being heard. Mr. Mukohara’s idea was that winning the election and kicking out the incumbent governor would stop the construction of the new reactor and prevent the restart of the existing ones.
Ever since the end of the Second World War, Kagoshima prefectural governors have long been former high-level governmental officials (from the now-defunct Ministry of Home Affairs). The top-down political atmosphere is deeply entrenched here, as an old proverb says, “Just let people follow you; no need to keep them informed.” Mr. Mukohara was not supported by any vote-gathering bodies, but his resolution and wish, which was to prevent the restart of the Sendai NPS and to create a nuclear-free Kagoshima, impressed existing progressive political parties and organizations, as well as women and conventionally nonpolitical young people. He had only an extremely short period of two months for his campaign, but being supported by citizens opposed to NPSs nationwide, he carried out the campaign with the aid of citizen volunteers and donations.
He was not elected, but more than two hundred thousand people voted for him, responding to his call: “It is you who decides on an NPS-free Kagoshima. You and I, together, will make a move to protect our children’s future and the fertile land, and create a future vision of Kagoshima that is full of hope.” It was a truly landmark event in Kagoshima, a traditionally conservative area. His election campaign team has today turned into the basis of the movement to resist the Nuclear Regulation Authority, national government, and electric power companies, who are trying to restart the Sendai NPS ahead of other NPSs.
Since March 2011, the Sayonara Nukes March 11 Kagoshima Rally planning committee has organized annual events where all the individuals, groups, and organizations opposed to NPSs and wishing for freedom from them gather from all over Kagoshima. Yoshitaka Mukohara is a central figure on the committee. Without his character and previous actions against NPSs, this committee might be inoperable.
The anti-nuke protest in Kagoshima is now facing a crucial period, but we intend to expand the movement to create a nuclear-free society with Mr. Mukohara, who protests against electric power capital and NPSs with an easy-going style.
*Secretariat of the Group of Plaintiffs against the Kyushu Sendai NPS and Kagoshima Anti-Nuclear Network