Nuclear disasters are lessons for the generations, says Japanese theologian

Nuclear disasters are lessons for the generations, says Japanese theologian

A Japanese theologian whose grandfather survived the August 6, 1945, atomic bombing of Hiroshima has written that such nuclear disasters should remind people of their responsibilities to future generations.

“We cannot attribute our sin to others, including our ancestors, or hold others responsible for our sin; sin is not something to be inherited, and we should accept responsibility for what we have done on our own,” Katsuhiro Kohara told ENInews.

Kohara, a professor at Doshisha University in Kyoto, cited a verse from the book of Jeremiah (31:29-30) in an article in the book Creation and Salvation: A Companion on Recent Theological Movements: “The fathers have eaten a sour grape and the children’s teeth are set on edge. But everyone shall die for his own iniquity.”

His grandfather’s experience affected his view, he said. “My grandfather had his atomic bomb victim’s handbook and spent his later years telling people about the experience.”

The purple handbooks, identifying the holder as a nuclear bomb survivor eligible for free medical tests, were issued 12 years after the US dropped bombs on Hiroshima and, on August 9, 1945, on Nagasaki. Kohara’s grandfather died in 1999.

Kohara also cited the disaster last year at the Daiichi nuclear plant in Fukushima that was caused by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

“I kept thinking vaguely in the corner of my mind about this issue [of radiation],” Kohara said, adding “that is the reason why I mentioned the ‘sour grapes’ in Jeremiah.”

He continued, “We know that if we eat sour grapes — radiation, ultraviolet rays and so on — not only our teeth but also ‘the children’s teeth are set on edge.’ Therefore, we should have as much awareness as possible of our responsibilities. We are no longer allowed to postpone performing our responsibilities to tomorrow.”

In his article, titled “A Theological Lesson Learned from the Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Fukushima Disasters”, Kohara said Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:34 (“Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof”) do not release us from our responsibilities to future generations.

Creation and Salvation was published in July by LIT Verlag of Munster, Germany.

By Hisashi Yukimoto, Ecumenical News International

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