Column: A new day dawns to oppose nuclear power

One by one, the silhouettes of people appeared. It was before dawn, and these silhouettes were slowly advancing and retreating at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. They were A-bomb survivors, their backs bent, climbing the stone steps as if crawling, heading for the Cenotaph for the A-bomb Victims. After a long moment of prayer, they would look up at the sky. Thick wisps of smoke from sticks of incense rose above them. From the heavens, colored with the first light of day, drops of rain suddenly began to fall.

A 92-year-old woman said that she walked about the area, after the A-bomb blast had burned everything to the ground, searching for her husband. She wandered the area with no clear destination in mind, holding her first child by the hand and carrying her second child on her back. “I just couldn't let him go,” she said. But in the end, she never saw him again. “I decided that I wouldn't cry this year,” the woman said. Still, her eyes were wet with tears.

Looking back at that time, an 82-year-old man said that he helped bring bodies to a field of lotus root and cremated them there. Since then, he has suffered repeatedly from serious illness, including leukemia and a stroke. Even now, he cannot dispel his anxiety over radiation. “I hope they will abandon nuclear weapons,” he said. “I don't think we need nuclear power plants any more.” His heart bleeds for the suffering of those in Fukushima.

“Our suffering has just begun,” said Megumi Goto, 44. She evacuated with her family to Hiroshima from the city of Minamisoma in Fukushima Prefecture. Along with her husband, she took part in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony as a volunteer. “Hiroshima is now the place it is because the A-bomb survivors haven't averted their eyes from the grief that they would rather forget, and have shared that grief with others,” Ms. Goto said, offering the perception she has felt keenly since relocating to the A-bombed city.

There is no end to the journey of the A-bombed city of Hiroshima, while future prospects for Fukushima are still unknown. August 6, 2011, marking the 66th anniversary of the atomic bombing, is a day that has dawned with those opposed to nuclear power reaching out to one another and joining hands.

(Originally published on August 7, 2011)