The Mullumbimby Farmers Market saw a protest on Friday against the visit of the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, to India to sign a deal with the Indian government for the transfer of nuclear technology.
Many Japanese mothers, with babies and children in tow, and people of Indian origin participated in this action, which was part of a worldwide protest with similar actions planned in New York, London, Istanbul, Tokyo and Delhi.
Speaking at protest longtime activist Harsha Prabhu said, ‘Four years after Fukushima, 29 years after Chernobyl and 36 years after Three Mile Island, we are still busy promoting nuclear technology as an option. This is a form of species suicide practiced by our governments and big corporations without regard for the science, without regard for safety, without regard for the toxic legacy of the whole nuclear cycle – from uranium mining to nuclear waste to nuclear reactors to nuclear weapons – a toxic legacy that will remain with us for thousands of years.’
Australian uranium was used in the Fukushima reactors. This was mined against the wishes of the aboriginal traditional owners like Yvonne Margarula from the NT, who even apologised to the Japanese people for the theft of uranium from her land and the subsequent contamination of Japan due to the Fukushima disaster,’ he added.
‘Japan, one of the world’s most technologically advanced countries, could not prevent Fukushima. And India, a country where millions still live below the poverty line, a country with a poor record of safety and corporate responsibility – witness the Bhopal tragedy of 1984, with people still waiting for any compensation, still waiting for decontamination of the site – is happy to accept this failed technology.
‘Why is this so? Perhaps because, at the end of the nuclear cycle, we have nuclear weapons. India is a nuclear power that has not signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, has nuclear weapons, just like its neighbour, Pakistan. Since 1947 these two countries have fought four wars. In 1999, according to CIA documents, there was a real danger of a nuclear war between the two. The Japan-India nuclear deal will throw fuel on this fire. This is very worrying for the international community,’ Mr Prabhu said.
Activist and organiser of the Mullumbimby action Saya Minami said: ‘I am from Tokyo. It’s so difficult to avoid contaminated food in Japan. We’ve had so much sadness and suffering because of the nuclear accident. I don’t want Indian people to experience this. ‘
Thousands have demonstrated in the streets of Tokyo and other major Japanese cities protesting against the continued spread of radiation from Fukushima and against the nuclear industry. The mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki have sent a letter to the Japanese PM protesting the latest Japan-India deal.
Similarly, thousands of Indians – from fisherfolk in Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu to farmers in Jaitapur in Maharashtra, both sites of nuclear power plants – have also demonstrated across the country demanding a halt to the spread of this dangerous technology.
On being asked for her response to the latest Japanese nuclear initiative, one Japanese lady at the market described it as ‘insane’. Another said: ‘This is totally wrong.’
One local lady said: ‘I think it’s despicable and outrageous, considering what we know about what happened in Fukushima.’ Another said: ‘There is no future with nuclear.’
One mother said: ‘Transferring dirty tech is not the answer. It’s just greed. It’s not for the people, not for the planet.’
Another Japanese mother said: ‘My parents live in Sendai, not far from Fukushima. I can’t take my kids there. It’s really sad.’
Jeff Dawson, Echonetdaily photographer said: ‘After what happened in Fukushima to think that Japan could lead the way with nuclear technology is simply bizzare.’
Activist Lila Grace compared it to harakiri and said: ‘The elders say uranium is a medicine that needs to stay in the ground. It’s like a slow acting vitamin for the earth. Take it out and it’s slow acting destruction. When are we going to learn and listen to the elders.’
Byron shire councillor and Greens representative Duncan Dey said: ‘How sad is that. It’s just another step in this disgusting cycle where we want to sell uranium to India. These are countries that have not signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. These are all our high flying friends, all friends of the USA. We have so much renewable energy. It would be so easy to not have to do nuclear.’
A local activist added: ‘Ever since the Aquarius Festival of 1973 the rainbow region has passionately promoted living lightly on the planet. This is what we stand for; this is the legacy we wish to leave for our children and future generations, not this toxic nuclear madness.’
An international petition against the Japan-India nuclear deal can be signed at: