Saturday, March 19, 2011

fallout fear returns...,


Video - Excerpt from "White Light/Black Rain: The Destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki".

CNN | The cities flattened by last week's earthquake look eerily similar to the decimated buildings Shigeko Sasamori saw after an atomic bomb was dropped on her hometown in 1945.

The floodwaters from the tsunami -- the waves of debris and bodies -- remind her of the rivers in Hiroshima, Japan, swamped with corpses.

And the struggle to contain radioactive emissions at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant makes Sasamori, 78, wonder if the crisis there will plague a new generation in Japan.

"Radiation is the most horrible thing, and it's more horrible to me because humans make it," she said from her home near Los Angeles. "We don't have to make that."

Sasamori is a hibakusha, or heat radiation survivor -- a name given to those who lived through the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United States at the end of World War II.

For them, radiation is an invisible enemy that has haunted them, claimed their loved ones, altered their bodies and threatened their lives.
WWII survivors' second nuclear crisis

The parallels between the devastation from the 1945 atomic bombs and that of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis have reopened old scars.

Sasamori wakes up at night and watches Japanese TV coverage of the disasters from her living room. A slender woman, dignified and gray-haired, Sasamori is shaken. Her body is sleepless, and her heart feels heavy, she said.

And she waits for news, because her daughter-in-law's extended family has yet to be located in the oceanside prefecture of Iwate.

As a nervous world watches the situation at Fukushima, some hibakusha worry that more Japanese people may have to endure the ordeal of radiation exposure than they did after World War II.

"This is like déjà vu," said Dr. Ritsuko Komaki, another Japanese American who grew up in Hiroshima after the bomb fell when she was 2.

Japan's modern history has now been haunted by two major nuclear events: the atomic bombs and the struggle to contain the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, which the Japanese prime minister described Friday as "very grave."