2011-06-14

As an unrealistic dreamer by Murakami Haruki (3/4) International Catalunya Prize speech at 2011-06-11

Here is a complete English translation of Murakami Haruki's International Catalunya Prize speech at 2011-06-11, part 3/4.  This is not an official translation. Please tell me if you believe there are any legal issues in my distribution of a translation, though I believe this is one of the stories that we all can share.

Here is also related German article from Asienspiegel



In the face of overwhelming nuclear power, we are all victims and assailants. We are all exposed to the threat of this power -- in this sense, we all victims. We extracted the nuclear power and we also could not stop using the power -- in this sense, we are all assailants.

This is the second time in history such terrible damage caused by atomic power has been experienced by us. But this time, nobody dropped an atomic bomb. We Japanese arranged this accident by ourselves: we made a mistake, we ruined our land, and we destroyed our lives.

Why has this happened? Where did our aversion to nuclear power go? We had that feeling for a long time after the war. We consistently looked toward a wealthy and peaceful society. What ruined and destroyed such a goal?

The reason is simple. It is ``効率 (Kouritu).'' ``Efficiency.''

Power companies insist that atomic reactors are efficient systems for generating electricity. That means it's a profitable system. Moreover, the Japanese government doubts the stability of the oil supply, especially after the oil shock. The government promoted building atomic reactors as the national policy. The power companies spent a huge amount of money on advertising, coerced the media, and distributed the illusion of the safety of atomic reactors.

One day, we suddenly realized the true situation: 30 of Japanese electricity is supplied by atomic reactors. Even though the Japanese people were not aware of it, the small island of Japan, a country with frequent earthquakes, had been developing what is now the third-largest installation of atomic reactors in the world.

Now it is simply a fact that we have nuclear power. People who have a fear of atomic reactors are criticized with threats like ``Then, are you fine even we don't have enough electricity?'' ``Are you fine if you cannot use air-conditioning in the summer?'' A person who questions nuclear power plans is labeled as ``an unrealistic dreamer.''

This is now the situation we found ourselves in. The atomic reactors that should be safe and efficient are now showing us devastation as if they opened the lid of hell.

The promoters of atomic reactors always insisted ``look at the reality.'' That reality was not the reality, it was just a superficial convenience. They replaced reality with their ``reality'' and flawed logic.

This is a corruption of the technology myth that Japan has been proud of for a long time. And simultaneously, this is the defeat of the ethics and standard of the Japanese people who allowed such a ``changeling of logic.''

``Please rest in peace, since we will never repeat the mistake.''

We need to carve these words in our hearts again.

Dr. Robert Oppenheimer was the leader of the development of the atomic bomb during the World War II. He was shocked when he found out about the disastrous scenes that had been created by the atomic bombs. He said to President Truman,

``Mr. President, I have blood on my hands.''

President Truman offered his white, well-folded pocket handkerchief to Oppenheimer, saying, ``Here. Would you like to wipe them?''

Needless to say, there is no clean handkerchief that can wipe up such an amount of blood in this world.

We Japanese should continuously shout ``No!'' to nuclear. This is my personal opinion.

We should have gathered all the technology we had, we should have combined all the wisdom we had, we should have invested a large amount of social capital, all to develop a new energy source that can replace the atomic reactors at the national level. That could be our way to honor our collective responsibility to the victims who died at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. That would be the big opportunity for us, the Japanese people, to really contribute to the world. However, on the way to the rapid development of our economy, we were swept along by an easy criterion, so-called ``Efficiency,'' and we lost the important path.

To rebuild the destroyed buildings and roads is the work of specialized people. But to try to reconstruct our ruined ethics and standards, that is the work of all of us. It will be a simple, rustic, and patient work. Like a fine spring morning, when all the people from a village go to the fields, tilling the soil and seeding it, we must all join and cooperate in this work.

For such huge collective work, there should be a part of that we, the professionals of words, the writers, can positively contribute. We should combine new ethics and standards with new words. We need to plant the seeds of new stories and help them bloom. They should be the stories we all can share. They are like the songs in the field for sowing -- they will encourage the people with their rhythms.



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