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From Asahi Shimbun

Japanese version

'Towards a Nuclear-Free World
    From Japan:
         Thoughts from a Country Hit by Nuclear Bombs - 2012'(6)

Keep Reaching Out through Dialogue
By Michiji Konuma, Physicist


I was in my 20s when Sin-Itiro Tomonaga, my mentor who later won the Nobel Prize in Physics, opened up the debate. "Politicians and diplomats are not the only ones who can decide how Japan is going to deal with nukes. Physicists should also join in this discussion." This remark must have been made from a sense of guilt that nuclear development originated from physics research.

I still hold the conviction I held when I was young that nukes are inhuman weapons of mass destruction. Putting faith in these weapons will create a warped and dangerous world.

People say that war and nukes will persevere. But just think about the wars in Japan during the Sengoku Era, a time of civil war, and the end of the Edo Period in the 19th century. Hardly anyone would believe that a war could break out in Japan today. It's the same around the world. Just as Barack Obama became the President of the United States, the abolition of nukes is a global trend. It is important to be consciously thinking about it every day in order to capture the best opportunity and timing to eradicate them.

On the other hand, there was an accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. If nuclear power plants keep running, they would continue to emit radioactive substances that need to be supervised for 100,000 years. Who is going to be responsible for this? This proves that the technology is incomplete. Nothing is safe from accidents, and there can never be absolute safety. I believe that there is no future in nuclear power plants.

Of course physicists have different views on nuclear power. It's normal to have differences of opinion. What that concerns me is that there is no dialogue, only a sense of despair.

This is not an issue strictly among scientists. I believe that the world could change one day if only each and every one of us would recognize that nukes and nuclear power is our problem and hold dialogues to reach out.


Michiji Konuma, an 81-year-old physicist specializing in elementary particle theory, is professor emeritus at Keio University and former president of the Physical Society of Japan. Since 1992, Professor Konuma has been a council member of the Pugwash Conference, an international conference of scientists who seek nuclear abolition to bring about peace.

(This was compiled through an interview by Daisuke Kanda.)