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Rev. Kono Taitsu & A Fellow Sentient Being
Rev. Taitsu Kono & A Fellow Sentient Being

Excerpted from an interview with Rev. Taitsu Kono:
Valuing Sentient Life and the Incompatibility with Nuclear Power
Q: So from this critical self-reflection on the war, we now have the declaration against nuclear power.

Rev. Kono: Yes, I feel that the war issue and the nuclear issue are the same. They both involved national policy, but not everyone agreed with such policy. There were only a handful of them in both cases, but there were people who opposed and courageously made warnings. However, this never became a large voice, and so we met with disaster made by this massive mainstream. On this point, nuclear power and the war followed the same trend.

When looking at the teachings of the Buddha, how should we regard atomic energy? Right now, who is it that is taking control since the Fukushima incident happened? It is an incredibly dangerous task, but the people who promoted atomic power are not the ones dealing with this task. Isn’t this some kind of discrimination?

We can now hear calls for the restart of nuclear facilities within Japan. Until we directly face the victims, we cannot think of restarting other nuclear facilities. Fundamentally, there has not been enough critical self-reflection. Although everyone must understand at this point the dangerous nature of nuclear power, there is a push for the restart of facilities based on what is called, ‘The Highest Safety Standards in the World.; The engine of profit that exists within atomic energy is being restarted. It is said that it costs 500 billion yen (roughly $6 billion) to build one atomic energy station, yet they were built every year to the point that we had 54 such stations. Although the legacy of the burden of managing these facilities remains a huge issue, ‘The Highest Safety Standards in the World’ keep being talked about.

I would especially like to call upon the critical self-reflection of the scientists involved in the promotion of atomic energy. While understanding the extent of the danger, they silently became involved in its promotion. Shouldn’t they be making a confession?

What is called atomic energy is energy produced by a nucleus. When uranium is burned, electricity is produced. If you create electricity by using one ton of uranium, there will be leftover the same amount of contaminated manner which has an appalling amount of radioactivity. Humanity does not possess the techniques to make this harmless and non-toxic. There is already a massive amount of contaminated matter stored here and there all over Japan that we absolutely cannot make harmless. Where is it ‘safe’ to put it all? This contaminated matter will be the heavy legacy that will span into the future for our descendents to bear. While we understand this, we continue to work for nuclear power. The greed of humans is truly frightening.

Everyone wishes for happiness. To secure such happiness, we have pursued economic benefit, but since this is simply a matter of our physical nature, it will certainly collapse. Mustn’t the pursuit of individual happiness become a part of the benefit for all society? Wouldn’t it be good if we took all the money for making nuclear reactors and the billions of dollars it requires to make them ‘safe’ and used it instead for the research and development of renewable natural energy? The abilities and interests of the people who work for Tokyo Electric Power Company should be used for the happiness of all people and future generations. Coming out of a critical self-reflection on the Fukushima incident, Japan should become the world’s leader in natural energy. I think it would be good if this happened.
Read the full interview-article “Nuclear Power Is Incompatible with the Way of the Buddha: A Declaration from Critical Self-Reflection on Mistakes“, by Rev. Taitsu Kono (Interview by Shin-ichiro Kumagai; Translated by Jonathan Watts) here: http://jneb.jp/english/activities/buddhismnukes/konoseka
Rev. Taitsu Kono, born in 1930, is the Chief Priest of the Myoshin-ji branch of the Rinzai Zen Denomination and the former President of the Japan Buddhist Federation (JBF), which brings together all the major traditional Buddhist denominations in Japan. He is also author of numerous books such as Toko-no-ma-no-Zengo (Words of Zen from the Scroll Alcove, Institute for Zen Studies), Tatakau Bukkyo (Confrontational Buddhism, Shunjunsha), and Funi-no Myodo-wo Iku (Treading the Mysterious Path of Non-Duality, Shunjunsha)“.
He was raised in the ancient capital of Kamakura by his maternal grandfather, who “was the head of the parishioner’s association of both the great Tsurugaoka Shinto Shrine and the great Kencho-ji Temple of the Rinzai Zen denomination“. http://jneb.jp/english/activities/buddhismnukes/konoseka See also: http://jneb.jp/english/activities/buddhismnukes

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