Anti-Nuke Who’s Who: Koji Asaishi – imbued with the spirit and love of the rebel: a true anti-nuclear activist Nuke Info Tokyo No. 83
Koji Asaishi: Imbued with the spirit and love of the rebel: a true anti-nuclear activist.
By Wakako Yamamoto
Throughout the world the tide is turning against nuclear energy. A sustainable society is one which accepts life in all its diversity and which lives in harmony with all living beings. Japan, however, has adopted a national policy supporting the nuclear fuel cycle. This ‘nuclear fuel cycle’ is a concept which is clearly falling to pieces. Nevertheless, the government is contriving to create an intensive complex of nuclear-related facilities in Rokkasho Village, Aomori Prefecture. It is now rushing to send spent fuel, high-level waste and low-level waste to those facilities. The ‘Group of Ten Thousand Plaintiffs for the Lawsuit to Stop the Nuclear Fuel Cycle’ have for over 15 years been opposing the nuclear fuel cycle facilities and running a court battle demanding that the project be withdrawn.
Koji Asaishi quickly realized the deceit and the danger of the nuclear fuel cycle plan, and in 1988 he became a key person in setting up the ‘10,000 people against nuclear fuel’ group. He was the leader of the defense council, and in 1996 became the delegate of the ‘10,000 Plaintiffs Group.’ Ever since Aomori received the request to become the nuclear fuel cycle site, the ‘10,000 Plaintiffs Group’ has been the center of the citizens’ opposition movement. Simply being the group’s president must have caused him enormous toil. Without the support and understanding of his lovely wife, also a lawyer, he couldn’t have carried forward the campaign as he did. Did he pass his regular workload on to her perhaps?
Asaishi was the Aomori Lawyers’ Association’s Pollution Response Committee chairperson for 25 years. He is a member of the Japan Lawyers’ Association’s Pollution Response and Environmental Protection Committee (Energy and Nuclear Energy Subcommittee) and has done surveys of nuclear energy facilities both within Japan and overseas. He drew attention to the legal issues involved with the nuclear fuel cycle plan and was an instigator of opposition to nuclear energy and to the nuclear fuel cycle both within and outside of Aomori. As a legal professional he continually appealed to the Japan Lawyers’ Association and succeeded in shifting the association’s stance by speaking out about the dangers of the nuclear fuel cycle at symposiums and large gatherings. Many groups have cringed themselves to the nuclear fuel cycle, a top-down national policy, but the Japan Lawyers’ Association has persistently taken an anti-nuclear stance, adopting a resolution in favour of the suspension of nuclear fuel reprocessing and calling for a shift to renewable energy at their 2000 general meeting in Aomori.
He was no doubt greatly moved by the Chernobyl tragedy. He says he wants to make Aomori a safe place for his 3 children to return to before he dies. He hasn’t changed a bit from the man who, 15 years ago, held a microphone in his hand as an anti-nuclear speaker. His heart is penetrated by the spirit and love of the rebel and on it are inscribed the words of the late Yoneuchiyama Giichiro: ‘Fighting begins with hatred’. Hidden behind his calm face is the strength of one who has frequently confronted despair. He will never lose sight of hope.