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Former Japanese PM Naoto Kan on the Fukushima Disaster

A Changing View of Nuclear Power

Kan bows to the Japanese flag before a news conference in Tokyo on April 12, 2011. (j808armada / flickr)

My father was an engineer, and when I was a child, he told me the story of Prometheus, a famous Greek myth in which Zeus grows angry at Prometheus for giving humans the wisdom of fire, knowledge capable of bringing on disaster. As punishment, Zeus chains Prometheus to a rock, where an eagle pecks incessantly at his liver. Today, I cannot help but remember that story when I think about the development of nuclear technology, a modern-day incarnation of the wisdom of fire.

In college, I studied science and technology, and ever since, I have had a great admiration for the Pugwash conferences, a forum dedicated to the elimination of nuclear weapons (the group won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993). That is because nuclear weapons, which have the power to kill large numbers

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