03/11/2021, 14.57
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Japanese bishops stand by the victims of Fukushima, say no nuclear power plants

The episcopate released a message for the tenth anniversary of the great quake that was followed by the Fukushima accident. The prelates are grateful to all those at home and abroad whose solidarity represented a “beacon of hope”, noting however that 40,000 people are still displaced. The prelates also call for the abolition of all nuclear power plants in Japan since we have “felt the limits of human wisdom and knowledge.”

Tokyo (AsiaNews) – The Catholic Bishops' Conference of Japan released a message titled A bond of solidarity becomes a beacon of hope to mark the tenth anniversary of the disaster of 11 March 2011.

In their statement, Japan’s Catholic bishops state that they will continue to stand by the communities affected 10 years ago by the triple catastrophe while renewing their call on the government to immediately abolish nuclear powerplants.

“It has been 10 years since an unprecedented catastrophe struck eastern Japan, mainly along the Pacific coast of Tohoku. Nearly 20,000 people died, the fates of more than 2,500 people remain unknown, and more than 40,000 people continue to live as evacuees. We continue to pray for the eternal rest of the deceased and extend our deepest sympathies to all the victims.”

“In the face of damage far greater than we could have imagined, many people not only in Japan but from all over the world rushed to support us,” reads the statement. The “bonds of solidarity that have spread throughout the world [. . .] have led to further relief activities in various parts of the country that have experienced disasters since then.”

For this reason, the bishops are deeply grateful to all the donors who have sent funds and to the volunteers, humanitarian organisations, local administrations and social services who over the past few years have worked with Caritas Japan.

To those all over the world who have supported the reconstruction of the affected areas, the bishops also ask “for your continued prayers for our brothers and sisters in the disaster area.”

“As a locally rooted presence even before the disaster, [. . .] the Catholic Church has worked and will continue to work with the affected communities to create hope for life. When the Catholic Sendai Diocese took the lead in reconstruction assistance, it set as its motto “A New Creation” and chose to move forward with hope. The Church’s reconstruction assistance activities shall not end at the 10-year milestone.”

The message notes that in November 2019, in his meeting with Tohoku residents during his visit to Japan, Pope Francis said that “We should not let this action be lost with the passage of time or disappear after the initial shock; rather, we should continue and sustain it.”

“Inspired by these words, the Catholic Church in Japan will continue to journey with the people of Tohoku as friends, brothers and sisters. We will provide not just material support, but a bond of solidarity that spreads throughout the world and raises “our horizon and our hope.”

With respect to the future of nuclear plants in Japan, the bishops reiterate what they said in November 2011, eight months after the disaster, namely “we called for the immediate abolition of nuclear power plants from the standpoint of believers who protect life, the gift of God.”

“Unfortunately, we feel that over time the situation is moving in a different direction from this call. Ten years after the accident, we renew our call for the immediate abolition of nuclear power plants and a review of lifestyles.”

“The Catholic Church believes that human life is a gift from God. The theme of Pope Francis’ visit to Japan was ‘Protect All Life’. Responding to the pope’s call, we want to bring about a society in which all life is protected without exception, its dignity is preserved, and no one is forgotten.”

For Japan’s bishops, the world should learn from the experience of ten years ago and apply the lessons to the current pandemic.

“When we were struck by that unprecedented disaster, we felt the limits of human wisdom and knowledge. Before the power of nature, we understood how weak we are. At that time, we engraved on our hearts the importance of helping each other, the importance of solidarity to protect life, and the importance of a caring heart. Now, 10 years after the great earthquake and tsunami, the world surely needs to think about that importance.”

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