DiaNuke.org is proud to have Prof. Dennis Riches as the Guest-Editor for the website from January to April 2016, which would include two important dates – the 5th year of Fukushima accident and 30th year of the Chernobyl accident.

Here is a note from the Prof. Riches about the role that he sees for DiaNuke.org and issues that we should be addressing at this important juncture. Readers can directly contact him on his email. Article contributions are most welcome.

From the editor

CIMG3024

Mother and Child Statue, Unknown Family, “hypocenter” memorial park, Nagasaki, 2015/11/02

Several months ago Kumar Sundaram, the founder of DiaNuke, told me he would like some help in editing and managing the website. I accepted his offer to be a guest editor for a few months which would cover the 5th anniversary of the Fukushima Daiichi catastrophe and the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl catastrophe.

I first learned of Japan’s date with disaster when I lived in Tokyo in the late 1980s. At that time, the Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center published a few pamphlets and books in English on nuclear issues, so all the outrageous flaws in the nuclear village were revealed then in those post-Chernobyl days, and I was happy to return to Canada in 1989. But, perhaps foolishly, I came back in 1994 and just got busy and distracted for many years by career and the joys of being a parent. We were in Toronto on March 11, 2011, on a leave from work and due to return on April 1st. We extended our stay for a while until the fog of radioactive iodine and xenon had dispersed, and the initial critical phase of the catastrophe had passed. But Japan was home. We had ties here and no good options for a life elsewhere. I settled in and just decided to fight against the willful forgetting that so many people in Japan seem to want, and even need.

As my term as editor for DiaNuke approached, I became increasingly perplexed about how to do justice to the two historic nuclear disasters. I have been writing about them and other aspects of the nuclear age on my own blog since 2011, and I was at a point where I felt I had said all I had to say, and perhaps the world had had enough of me asking it to listen. I was also aware that there were no longer just a few lone voices in the wilderness taking on the nuclear establishment. The movement has come roaring back to life. It may not be featured on traditional mass media networks, but it is kind of like Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign. The media tries to ignore him, but millions of people are contributing money and voting for him anyway. When it comes to nuclear issues, the resistance is now a force to be reckoned with. There are communities throughout the world that are learning about the nuclear history in their own back yards (St. Louis, USA, for example) and demanding action. This might not have happened if not for Fukushima Daiichi.

As I began looking for articles to publish this winter, I realized it would be impossible to find one writer who would say it all and deliver one crowning message to commemorate these grim anniversaries, so I decided just to plod on as I always do in my own research, without trying too hard to find that special message that would encompass everything. I reached out to writers who could contribute original articles, and I collected the best ones I could find and get permission to republish. My choices will leave many important stories out, but I hope I have found a way to avoid being redundant and have made a selection that complements what is being published by hundreds of other media during these weeks. Among them I think there are some obscure or forgotten stories, and fresh perspectives that haven’t been covered elsewhere.

DiaNuke is a website founded in India for an Indian and South Asian audience, and I am aware that my selections may have a Western bias, but this was a deliberate attempt to bring international perspectives on the bitter experience of nations that went nuclear first. These lessons may be helpful warnings for younger generations and people in communities that are meeting the nuclear salesman for the first time.

I will quickly finish explaining why I do all this with a photo (above) that accidentally became one of my favorites. In November 2015, I visited Nagasaki and I went to the memorial park that marks the hypocenter where the bomb was dropped. I was getting set to take a photo of the Mother and Child Statue, but this couple with their three lovely daughters walked through the shot and “ruined” it. I wish I could identify them, but I suppose I never will. I just call them the Unknown Family, alluding to the shrines to the unknown soldier all over the world. After all, one thing we know for sure is that the nuclear age has turned us all into citizen-soldiers who are asked to put our lives on the line.

Dennis Riches

Chiba, Japan, 2016/03/10