By Karen Harris
Marking the fourth anniversary of the Fukushima disaster, Sawada-shonin, a Buddhist Monk originally from Japan, walked to the entrance of Diablo Canyon nuclear plant on March 10th. Playing a hand held ritual drum and chanting a prayer for peace, he bowed to the cars exiting the facility.
The peace walk began at the Santa Barbara Courthouse on March 4th. His message is “Humanity should not be depending on nuclear energy. The U. S. is especially responsible for developing this technology. The policy should be changed.”
Rev. Sawada, originally from 40 miles south of Fukushima where his brother still resides, came to the United States in 1978. He joined the Buddhist order, Nipponzan Myōhōji, which actively engages in peace and non-violence worldwide with a focus on nuclear development. He began participating in walks in 1978 when roughly two thousand people marched from San Francisco to DC to promote Native American rights. Over the past 37 years, he has participated in various peace walks, several times cross-country.
He resided in Colorado from 1978 to 2005 and was involved in the peaceful protest of the Rocky Flats Plant which resulted in its shutdown. The plutonium-processing plant, located 15 miles northwest of Denver, produced nuclear weapons. Production was halted in 1989 after years of protests and was finally terminated in 1993 when clean-up of the contamination began.
On March 11th, Rev. Sawada spent the day at the San Luis Obispo Courthouse continuing his drumming and chanting of the Daimoku, Namu Myono Renge Kyo, for peace and non-violence. His efforts were supported by the local organization Mothers for Peace. The non-profit organization is concerned with the dangers of nuclear power and work to promote peace and a carbon-free world.
The event by Mothers for Peace, Fukushima is Everywhere, concluded at the Steynberg Gallery that evening with an opening prayer by Sawada-shonin. The program included music by Inga Swearingen and Guy Bud, video presentations on Fukushima and Shutdown: The California-Fukushima Connection, and presenters including Linda Seeley (Mothers for Peace), with contributions from editorial cartoonist Russ Hodin and David Weisman from Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility.