Tuesday, 7 August 2012

COMMENTARY/ Ryuichi Sakamoto: Mankind cannot live with nuclear energy


July 04, 2012

Ryuichi Sakamoto (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
Ryuichi Sakamoto (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
I believe the first catalysts that made me aware about pacifism and the anti-nuclear movement were Nobel Prize-winning writer Kenzaburo Oe's "Hiroshima Notes" and Keiji Nakazawa's manga "Barefoot Gen."
I might also have been influenced by the Cuban missile crisis of 1962. With tensions heightening in the world, even as a child I felt the fear of a possible nuclear war.

Having been born and raised amid the Cold War, I may have subliminally had anchored into my subconscious a fear of the destruction of the world through a World War III that was fought with nuclear weapons.

I also felt a vague hatred toward power generation that used the same nuclear fission principle.  As a teenager, the Vietnam War intensified and calls arose around the world for peace. I also participated in student movements.

Based on the horrors of war I heard from my parents' generation, such as fleeing from bombs and incendiary bombs, as well as imagining what the Vietnamese were experiencing, such as fighting pangs of hunger, I began to hold stronger feelings of wanting the killing to end, and those thoughts became deeply embedded within me.

When the Chernobyl nuclear accident occurred in 1986, I only held interest like any other ordinary citizen. Looking back on that now, I regret not having taken any action to stop nuclear plants in Japan decades before the major accident occurred at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
On the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, the terrorist attacks occurred in New York where I lived. I experienced firsthand what it means to live closely with fear from fighting and civil war.
I became convinced that under a condition of tension of either kill or be killed it was impossible to create and enjoy music. However, if I say peace is necessary for humans to enjoy music, some people may become angry at my naivete. Information that I gathered with my friends and colleagues on a daily basis have been compiled in a book titled "Hisen" (No War).

Another thing I became convinced of after experiencing 9/11 is that in order to live there is a need to know. If one understands what the objective was behind an act by someone and what lies in the background to such acts, one can surmise what might happen next. If one does not understand, it might be possible for that person to run in the direction from which bullets are being fired.

I am embarrassed to admit that it was only after 9/11 that I first began studying the history behind why the United States became a target of terrorists. That also immediately led to my asking myself about the contradiction in living in the United States as a citizen of the nation on which it had dropped atomic bombs. I have still not come up with an answer to that question.

With the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11, 2011, and the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, I feel it is now the responsibility of Japan as the only nation to suffer major radiation exposure on three separate occasions as well as a contribution to the international community to say to the entire world that mankind cannot live in this world with nuclear energy, be it in the form of weapons or as a form of power generation.


Ryuichi Sakamoto was born in 1952 and formed Yellow Magic Orchestra in 1978. Also active as a producer and arranger, Sakamoto has been active in providing support to victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake as well as continuing to speak up about social issues such as nuclear energy and eliminating nuclear weapons.

(This was compiled through an interview by Yohei Goto.)

No comments:

Post a Comment