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Hist Sci (Tokyo). 2009;19(2):132-45.

Nuclear energy in postwar Japan and anti-nuclear movements in the 1950s.

Author information

  • Graduate School of Decision Science and Technology, Tokyo Institute of Technology.

Abstract

The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 revealed the most destructive power to-date of man-made weapons. Their impact was so great that Japanese scientists thought that a bigger disaster could be prevented only if war was abolished. Thus they welcomed the international control of atomic energy. It was, however, only after the occupation that the Japanese general public began to learn about the horror of these atomic disasters due to the censorship imposed by the occupational forces. The hydrogen bomb test by the US in the Bikini atoll on March 1, 1954 renewed fears of nuclear weapons. The crew of a Japanese fishing vessel, the "Daigo Fukuryu Maru" (Lucky Dragon No. 5) suffered from exposure to radiation from the test. Even after the incident the US did not stop nuclear tests which continued to radioactively contaminate fish and rains in Japan. As a result, the petition movement for the ban of nuclear trials suddenly spread all over the country. By the summer of 1955 the number of the signatures grew to more than one third of Japan's population at the time. Under the strong influence of anti-nuclear Japanese public opinion the Science Council of Japan announced the so-called three principles of atomic energy: "openness," "democracy," and "independence" to ensure atomic energy was used for peaceful uses only. These principles were included in the Atomic Energy Basic Law established in December 1955. With this law, military uses of nuclear energy were strictly forbidden.

PMID:
20521422
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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