Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Legacy of Hiroshima Heightens Fears in Japan

As we discussed the earthquake and tsunami on Monday in class, I noted that Japan was the world's only country that had previously faced a nuclear holocaust. The potential (and now real) meltdown of nuclear reactors there has an enormous historical significance for the Japanese, beyond the comprehension or experience of any other nation. At WSJ, "Hiroshima's Legacy Heightens Fears":
TOKYO—Mikiso Iwasa was 16 years old when the atomic bomb struck Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945. He was in the backyard of his house, a little less than a mile away from ground zero. He was smashed onto the ground by the force of the bomb.

Mr. Iwasa escaped, but the deadly effects of radiation caught up with him later: He suffered from skin cancer twice as well as prostate cancer. He lost his hair. His nose and gums bled. He developed rashes all over his body.

For the only country ever to have experienced the atomic bomb and the horrific effects of concentrated radiation exposure, the nuclear crisis escalating in Japan has had a crippling effect on the nation's collective psyche.