Shibata Yukinori, Jesuit Social Center Tokyo
In 1982 it was announced that a nuclear power station was going to be built in Tanoura (Kaminoseki City, Yamaguchi Prefecture). Off the coast and facing Tanoura is Iwaishima, an island with rich agricultural land and a fishing port. Iwaishima is a small island with only 500 residents and an aging population. The film I present here traces the lives of the islanders who, for thirty years now, have striven to preserve the ocean’s natural richness by continuing their opposition to the construction of a nuclear reactor. This documentary also introduces a group of Swedish people who are supporting the residents of Iwaishima in their effort to construct a sustainable society that relies on natural not nuclear energy.
For a long time I have been aware of the Kaminoseki nuclear power station, because the Shimonoseki Labor Education Center has long been involved in the movement against building the nuclear power station there. Nevertheless, the Japanese government has been promoting nuclear energy as a solution to stop global warming.
I decided to study the issue so as not to be caught up in simplistic thinking. I came across a leaflet published by the Japan Catholic Council for Justice and Peace entitled “Nuclear energy is not the Solution to Global Warming.” I found there an opportunity to learn more about nuclear energy and global warming, and on hearing that this film was going to be shown in Tokyo, I decided to watch it so as to have first- hand information on the Kaminoseki nuclear power station.
As a result, after watching the film, I became more and more convinced of the need to oppose the building of the nuclear power station in Kaminoseki. In fact, the film does not really make a strong appeal against nuclear energy, but focuses carefully on the lives of the islanders. Employees of Chugoku Electric Power, riding in boats, call on the islanders to cooperate with the work of reclaiming land from the sea to start building the nuclear plant.
Their appeal to the people is, “Do you really believe that life on the island will improve by fishing and agriculture alone?” How insolent an appeal! Do they imply that the islanders, accustomed to be self-supporting, would be better off by giving up farming and fishing in order to work at the nuclear plant and earn salaries to buy their food?
By way of contrast, Sweden has decided to stop building nuclear plants and has given priority to the possibilities of recycling natural energy. Some small towns suffering from depopulation have reached total self-sufficiency in energy by using wind power and natural fuels, like organic resources and fuels from waste garbage and the disposal from domestic animals rather than fossil fuels from petroleum or coal. At the same time, the national policy is liberalization of the energy supply so that citizens are able to opt for electricity produced by recycling energy resources. One Swede, upon hearing that electricity in Japan is not liberalized, asked spontaneously, “Why is that? Japan should liberalize it immediately.” Just as he affirms, it is better to solve the issue before the problems appear.
At the end of the film, a young man returning to Iwaishima says, “Although I do not know many places around the world, I feel that this is the only real place for me to live. I want to continue living here and enjoying the natural surroundings where my ancestors were raised.” This is the only reason the residents of Iwaishima give to oppose the nuclear plant.
After the Second World War Japan uprooted citizens of rural areas, forgot about them, and imposed development patterns. Now it is trying to do the same with the residents of Iwaishima under the pretext of “preventing global warming.”
The title of this film is taken from Physics: “The Sound of the Wings of Bees” is small but could result in a strong movement like “the Movement of the Earth.” Couldn’t we also become like bees?