As the 70-year anniversary of the atomic bomb drops in Hiroshima and Nagasaki approached this week, some of the survivors banded together to oppose the growth of nuclear power in their new home: Brazil. The group has recently stepped up its calls for peace and demands to shut down nuclear power plants, which can produce radiation similar to what the survivors experienced in Japan, the Guardian reported exclusively Wednesday.
"Many people don’t know that radiation is so close to our lives. People must be aware of it, what radiations are and what kind of effect they have in our body,” São Paulo, Brazil, resident Junko Kosumo said. “We must pass on [what we know] to future generations."
Brazil is home to the largest population of Japanese people outside Japan, and it has more than 100 Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivors, called hibakusha, living there. One man, Takashi Morita, told the Japan Times he moved because he heard South America's climate might help alleviate his radiation symptoms from the Hiroshima blast. Morita then went on to found an advocacy group for Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivors, members of which speak at schools and conferences about their experiences in an effort to stop Brazil from expanding its nuclear energy programs.
Brazil has two nuclear reactors and is building a third. The existing reactors generate about 3 percent of the nation's electricity, according to the World Nuclear Association. The country is nowhere near as reliant on nuclear energy as France or Belgium, where nuclear reactors are responsible for more than 75 percent and 54 percent of the energy, respectively.
However, Brazil could be looking to increase its reliance on nuclear power. Energy Minister Eduardo Braga announced in May that he wanted to create up to four new reactors starting in 2020. The energy could provide backup for the country's hydroelectric dams, which can't fully operate during dry seasons, he said, adding that he planned to let private investors bid on the reactors, which were "a necessity but not a priority," Reuters reported.
Morita and his group have plans of their own: to keep campaigning against the expansion. "I experienced the bomb. I saw many die," he told the Guardian. "I have lived until now with a spirit dedicated to ensuring humanity never again sees such a terrible thing."