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“This Monster From Which We Must Not Avert Our Eyes, Upon Which We Must Look Directly”

March 20, 2011

Here is another translation from a post on Illcommonz by Brian Bergstrom.  Thanks, Brian!

Now, looking at the nuclear plant raging and spewing in Fukushima, I am reminded of these lines by Hanamori Yasuji, whose birth has its 100th anniversary this year.

“What’s wrong with creation?” you ask, and indeed, it’s as you say.
To avoid getting fat from the unhappiness of others;
To avoid profiting from the exploitation of human weakness;
To make good things, things that help us in our lives,
And then sell them – indeed, what could be wrong with this kind of creation?
Companies and people who think this way, work this way:
They too can profit, and greatly – it’s true!

But these days, these kinds of companies, these kinds of people,
How many can we say there really are?

Making things that help no one in their lives —
Knowing, in fact, that they may well bring ruin —
As long as they sell, it matters not;
In order to sell, any mayhem wrought;
It seems these are the only companies and people left.

And these companies, and the government that supported and pushed them,
Now they proclaim: Look at the prosperity we’ve made, Japan!
It was all thanks to us! As they thump their chests.

Really?  Could this really be true?

If so, it behooves you to take another look.
You government, who supported and pushed such industry,
Take another look.

With such pride, you proclaim your creation:
This world – you must not avert your eyes
You must look upon it directly.

What is this “prosperity”?
What is this “rich life”?

The smoke from the factories you created in such frenzy
Turns our skies heavy and clouded and particle-choked;
The wastewater you pour out so blithely
Causes our rivers and seas to grow dark and rotten and still;
The gases emitted by the things you’ve created
Wither our plants and trees in summer and stop their flowering in spring.

Thanks to you, from around us, all green is lost;
Thanks to you, we now look upon a miserable little scrap of land
With a miserable little house built on it as a wish too distant even to dream.
Thanks to you, we now
Grow heartsick over whether the very fish on our tables is poison.

But, terrible though it may be to realize,
The blame for the horrible state of this world we live in
Is not yours alone to bear.
It is terrible, unbearably so, to admit,
But as you flew into frenzy, as your vision grew bloody and red,
As you pursued profit at the expense of all else, we who watched silently,
Who did nothing to stop it – the insanity was ours as well.

We’ve lived quite long enough;
We’ve done enough;
We’ve reached the point where we’ve nothing more to gain, have we not?

And so, for our children,
And for our children’s children,
It is time for us, all of us, to break from this crazy prosperity
Go back where we started, and begin again from there.
Let us face this horror we created
And use our own two hands to make recompense.

These things that threaten the way we live,
These things that do nothing to help us in our lives,
Let us take these hands that created them
And now use them to throw them away.

Radiation Scares, Aftershocks…and a Desperate Struggle in a Dark Reactor

At the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, which is still emitting highly radioactive material, a desperate struggle continues, despite growing fears of contamination and radiation poisoning.

At Reactor #2, a large explosion occurred on the morning of the 15th.

800 employees from Tokyo Electric Power and associated companies had been busy pouring water to cool the reactor, but following the explosion, 750 of them temporarily left, leaving the “absolute minimum” of 50 workers behind.  To avoid radiation, work has to be stopped when radioactivity levels get too high.  On the morning of the 15th, radiation levels at the nearby Reactor #3 were measured at 400mSv, which dictated that work there had to be interrupted every fifteen minutes.  Damage inflicted by the tsunami has resulted in a continuing power outage, as well.

Without light, the work being done in these pitch-dark buildings has little chance to become more effective.  As aftershocks continue, work is also interrupted by precautions taken against the possibility of another tsunami.  The 400mSv reading at Reactor #3 was recorded by the portable device carried by one of the workers.

On the afternoon of the 12th, steam that had reached a very high level of pressure within the containment building in Reactor #1 was released through a valve.  This prevented the worst-case scenario of a fissure opening in the containment building itself.  The man who opened the valve was showered in radiation levels of over 100mSv and was hospitalized after complaining of nausea and lethargy.

It is the nature of this work to risk exposure to high levels of radiation.  For this reason, the shift supervisor in charge of the operation was a veteran employee deeply familiar with the ins and outs of Reactor #1’s make-up.  Donning a mask and a special one-piece protective suit called a “Tyvek,” he opened the valve quickly, but still ended up exposed within ten minutes to 100 times the amount of radiation the average person should be exposed to over the course of a year.

According to the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, there are around 70 Tokyo Electric employees involved in the water pumping operations at the plant.  They are reportedly taking turns managing the pumps and other aspects of the operation near the containment buildings.

The instruments and gauges meant to be controllable from a central location became non-operational as a result of the disaster.  Remote control is also impossible, which leaves no other way to open the valves than by hand.  Work was also hampered by the narrowness of the hallways and work areas, a sign of the Fukushima Daiichi plant’s age – Reactor #1 dates back to 1971.

As water is pumped into the reactor, the pressure of the gases inside rises, making the risk of rupture rise as well; due to this, the valves that allow the gases to escape must also be periodically opened as the operation continues.  Because the gases contain radioactive materials, their emission must be kept to a minimum. “A delicate balance must be maintained as we continuously face the difficult choice between the two actions,” said the Tokyo Electric employee heading the operation, with a sigh.

Yomiuri Shimbun, 2011-03-15



It would behoove the directors and officials at Tokyo Electric who had assured us all along of the “safety” of nuclear power to look upon this.  Avert not your eyes from this monster you created with such pride as you proclaimed your achievements – look upon it now directly.  And you politicians and government officials who supported and pushed Tokyo Electric’s act of creation, celebrating it in the name of “progress” and “environmental renewal” – look upon it now, too.  Look upon this monster directly.  What is this “progress”?  What is this “secure life”?

Right now, the monster currently raging and spewing in Fukushima must be made to spew no more poison, and the hands of those who created it must now strive to dismantle it, throw it away, render it a ruin that will never be used again.  And then, those of us who allowed this monster to be created must make our recompense.  We have done enough.  We’ve lived quite long enough.  For our children, and our children’s children, we must break from this crazy progress, this crazy lifestyle, and take these things that threaten the way of life of our children, these things that do nothing to help our children’s future, and with these hands that helped to create them, now dismantle and destroy them.

Posted by illcommonz | 2011-03-16 01:22


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