Comments on the Bishops’ Message “Abolish Nuclear Plants Immediately”


Comments on the Bishops’ Message “Abolish Nuclear Plants Immediately” Why does the Catholic Church announce a […]

Comments on the Bishops’ Message “Abolish Nuclear Plants Immediately”

  1. Why does the Catholic Church announce a message on nuclear plants?
  2. When Japanese citizen discuss the pros and cons of nuclear plants, each one speaks from a different stance. The following are a few examples: One citizen is mainly interested in profitability, while another is anxious about protecting children’s health and the security of civil life, and yet, another is thinking about the needs to maintain international competitiveness.
    On the other hand, the Catholic Church regards the pros and cons of nuclear plants as an ethical issue and a problem of human life. We also have responsibilities to protect nature, the environment and all life as God’s creation, in solidarity with all people. We would like to undertake our responsibilities as religious to speak on the pros and cons of nuclear plants from these two stances.

  3. Regarding the messages of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan
  4. There are 16 dioceses from Hokkaido to Okinawa in Japan. Archbishops, bishops and auxiliary bishops appointed by the Pope are responsible for the faithful and various facilities in their respective dioceses. There are 17 bishops in Japan today (not including bishops emeritus).
    A message, which has reached a consensus among these bishops, is announced occasionally as the message of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan. Such a message was announced this time after all the bishops reached a consensus during the Special Extraordinary Plenary Assembly on November 8 in Sendai. It is addressed not only to Japanese Catholics but also to all residents in Japan.

  5. Why is it now that the message on nuclear plants is announced?
    1. After the recent nuclear plant accident, people started to discuss whether nuclear plants should be abolished or maintained. However, the Japanese government is gradually heading toward the maintenance of nuclear plants without paying attention to the public debate. The government has initiated the path to resume the operations of nuclear plants, and restarted the negotiation on the export of nuclear technology. Particularly under such circumstances, the pros and cons of nuclear plants should be examined respecting the outcome of public discussion. This is the reason why we decided to announce this message.
    2. In the message “Reverence for Life” from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan (2001), we said that we would move in the direction of the abolishment of nuclear plants, but took a stance of admitting the continued existence of nuclear plants. Faced with the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant Accident, the bishops have decided to take a more decisive and clear attitude on nuclear plants.

  6. Is it possible to abolish nuclear plants immediately?
  7. In summer 2011, the shortage of electricity was predicted because the nuclear plants in Kanto and Tohoku regions stopped operating. However, thanks to the effort to save energy by corporations and local governments and others, we could overcome the shortage. It can be said that the shortage of electricity can be overcome by saving energy even if nuclear plants stop operating immediately. It might cause handicaps in terms of international competitiveness. However, new international competitiveness should be strengthened by promoting the development of natural energy. We trust Japanese advanced technology, and hope that Japanese people will make efforts to change their lifestyle by various means such as saving electricity. People in all Japan, not to mention Eastern Japan, which was afflicted by the nuclear plant accident, need to change their lifestyle to reduce dependence on nuclear power and electricity.

  8. Explanation on the words in the message
  9. “The wisdom to know our limits”: The knowledge, technology and endeavor of the human race have limits, and to know its limits constitutes true wisdom. It is necessary to humbly accept the wisdom in the fields of science and technology as well. The latest accident revealed that something uncontrollable by human knowledge and technology could happen in nuclear plants.
    “In the context of peaceful use”: Japanese people have an earnest desire to abolish nuclear weapons based on their horrible experience of atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This desire was converted into the peaceful use of nuclear energy as nuclear plants, in the context of peaceful use. However, it is also pointed out that nuclear technology can be easily used for the development of nuclear weapons. We should consider the abolishment of nuclear plants from this perspective as well.
    “Poverty”: It means a way of life not obsessed with desire (greed) for goods and money. It is not the lifestyle that one thinks money and goods are unnecessary, but that one recognizes the true value of all God’s creation (water, nature, etc.,), utilizes them with respect, and shares them fairly with others.
    “Obedience”: It means to obey the will of God.
    “Detachment”: It means to become free from coveting money and goods, and to shift from the satisfaction of “having” to the joy of “being”.
    “Self-sacrifice”: It means to live offering one’s life to God and other people with one’s love of God and others, instead of being driven by greed. In addition to the meaning related to the ethic of each individual, it has a meaning to live sharing the limited resources and products equally among all people and partaking of them fairly as a global citizen (the spirit of solidarity).

  10. In this message, we appeal to reduce not only “dependence on nuclear plants”, but also “dependence on electricity”. Such efforts will contribute to respecting global environment and human life, not to mention the abolition of nuclear plants and the measures against global warming.

From Sendai
November 10, 2011
Archbishop Joseph Mitsuaki Takami, S.S.
President of the Episcopal Commission for Social Issues