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From Asahi Shimbun

Japanese version

'Towards a Nuclear-Free World
    From Japan:
         Thoughts from a Country Hit by Nuclear Bombs - 2013'(3)

No thanks to things that threaten life
By Tokiko Kato, singer  (January 31, 2013, The Asahi Shimbun Newspaper)


I was born in mainland China, and when I was an adolescent I felt distressed because I was the child of an invader. I was from a country that had both instigated a war and been hit with atom bombs. I didn't want to escape my responsibility as a concerned party.

People may say we must "protect Japan," as if countries have a face - almost a life of their own - but it is just the reverse. The people have life, and, although it is the country that should protect them, history has repeatedly shown that people's lives are sacrificed to protect the country. World War II was just such a case. Things become dangerous when people start putting their country first, saying 'our country, our country.'

I was 1 year and 7 months old when the war ended, so I don't have any memories of the war, but as someone who lived at the cusp of wartime, this connection was important for helping me to find my footing in life.

I participated in a demonstration for the first time in 1960, when I was a junior in high school, against the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between Japan and the United States. I was moved by the discovery that there were other people who thought the same way I did. But the student movement couldn't change society. People in the movement were overwhelmed with despair, gave up, and like an advancing avalanche, became drivers of economic growth. Still, I wanted to stand on the side of people and their lives, and thus I have continued to sing.

In December 1942, one year before I was born, American physicists succeeded in creating a nuclear chain reaction, leading to the creation of an atomic bomb. My age and the nuclear age are nearly one and the same. Until then, nuclear bombs hadn't been used. A terrible irretrievable legacy for the future was created in such a very short time.

I think the elimination of nuclear weapons and ending the use of nuclear power are the same in the sense that , 'I want to get rid of things that put human life in danger.' People are born into life, bring the next life into the world through love, and then nurture this cycle. Society has gone on this way regardless of the situation the country was in. This is the most important thing people can do. We don't need nukes.


Tokiko Kato was born in Harbin, China in 1943. She is a singer. She made her debut in 1965 while she was a student at the prestigious University of Tokyo. She won the Japan Record Award in 1971 for "Shiretoko Ryojo." She took over the Kamogawa Nature Park (Kamogawa Shizen Ohkoku) in Chiba Prefecture from her deceased husband, Toshio Fujimoto, who was a student activist. She took in many evacuees after the Great East Japan Earthquake.

(This was compiled through an interview by Asako Hanafusa.)