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Right livelihood award for anti-nuclear activists

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(October 10, 1997) Anti-Nuclear scientists and activists Mycle Schneider and Jinzaburo Takagi are two of the five winners of the prestigious 'Alternative Nobel Prize', the Right Livelihood Award. The award honors individuals for their contributions for a sustainable future. The Award will be presented on December 8 in the Swedish parliament.

(479.4752) WISE Amsterdam - Mycle Schneider (France) and Jinzaburo Takagi (Japan) are being honored "for the scientific rigor of their research and the effectiveness of their dissemination of its results, which have'alerted the world to the unparalleled dangers of plutonium to human life, and empowered many to resist the misinformation and the secrecy whereby the plutonium industry imposes these dangers on the public". The Award recognizes in the founder of WISE-Paris, and the founder of the Tokyo-based Citizens Nuclear Information Center (CNIC), a unique partnership in the struggle to rid humanity of the threat posed by the manufacture, transport, use and disposal of plutonium.

The 1997 Right Livelihood Award of SEK 1,800,000 (about US$240,000) will be shared by five outstanding individuals from three continents for their contributions to a sustainable future for humanity. The Award -- commonly known as the "Alternative Nobel Prize" -- will be presented at a ceremony in the Swedish Parliament, Stockholm, Sweden, on December 8, 1997. The other three winners are:

  • Joseph Ki-Zerbo from Burkina Faso "for a lifetime of scholarship and activism that has both laid out the history of Black Africa and identified the key principles and processes by which Africans can create a better future".
  • Michael Succow from Germany for "an exemplary commitment to safeguard important ecosystems and areas of outstanding natural value for future generations".
  • Cindy Duehring from the USA who experienced a reaction to toxic chemicals when she was in her early 20s is honored "for her extraordinary courage and determination to put her personal tragedy at the service of humanity by generating the knowledge that can help others understand and combat the risks that toxic chemicals present to human life and health".

Founded in 1980, the Right Livelihood Awards were introduced 'to honor and support those offering practical and exemplary answers to the most urgent challenges facing us today". The idea came from a Swedish-German philatelic expert, who sold his valuable postage stamps to provide the original endowment. He felt that the Nobel Prizes today ignore much work and knowledge vital for the future of humankind.

Mycle Schneider was born in 1959. Interested in the civil and military use of nuclear energy and concerned that there was little international information available in France, in 1983 he set up WISE-Paris, as the French connection of the World Information Service on Energy (WISE) International. Further he has written a lot of papers and articles on energy and environmental issues. For example in 1992 he was one of the authors of the Worldwatch/Greenpeace/WISE-Paris "World Nuclear Status Report". Schneider, who considers the plutonium industry being "the single most threatening industrial activity for mankind and the environment", produced in 1995-96 a series of reports on the connection of Japanese, Belgian, Dutch and German plutonium as well as Canadian uranium with the French nuclear weapons program. Over the last years, Schneider has put considerable efforts into highlighting the risks of the shipments of used nuclear fuel -- in particular from Germany and Japan -- to La Hague for plutonium separation. In 1991, he went to Japan at the request of Jinzaburo Takagi to participate in an International Plutonium Conference. The two men started working together on the issues of waste and plutonium shipment between the two countries, a collaboration that still continues.

Jinzaburo Takagi came to these issues as associate professor of nuclear chemistry at the Tokyo Metropolitan University (TMU). After graduation in 1961, he spent four and a half years working for the nuclear industry and another four years for the nuclear institute at the University of Tokyo. In 1967 he won the Asahi Scientist Encouragement Award. When he left TMU in 1975 to set up the non-profit Citizen`s Nuclear Information Center (CNIC), he stepped off the ladder to top nuclear status within the nuclear elite. Takagi has written many books and innumerable articles on nuclear issues, environment protection and peace, with special emphasis on the fight against the nuclear threat as well as human rights. Takagi and CNIC have concentrated since 1988 on the Japanese plutonium program. Beneath various activities on this issue Takagi has produced the Proposal for a Moratorium on Japan`s Plutonium Utilization Program.

When, in December 1995, the Japanese prototype fast breeder had a serious accident which the authorities tried to cover up, Takagi and CNIC were constantly quoted in the press as the scientists who could be trusted. Tagaki reported: "With all cover-ups revealed, the (nuclear industry) has now lost public confidence completely...." Together with Schneider and other independent experts, he started an intensive two-year international research project called A Comprehensive Social Impact Assessment of MOX (Uranium-plutonium mixed oxide fuel) Use in Light Water Reactors.

In 1997 Schneider and Takagi were proved right about the problems of the fast breeder program when France shut down its Superphenix FBR, and also when, after another accident, the Japanese MOX program was looking shaky. Takagi is allowing himself some optimism for the first time: "I now think for the first time in my life that we'll be able to relieve Japan and the world from the plutonium nightmare."

Source: Right Livelihood Award Foundation, Press release, 1 October 1997
Contacts: Mycle Schneider, WISE Paris; 31-33 rue de la Colonie, 75013 Paris France
Tel: +33-1-4565 4793; Fax: +33-1- 4580 4858
Jinzaburo Takagi, CNIC; 1-58-14-302 Higashi-nakano, Nakano-ku, Tokyo 164 Japan
Tel: +81-3-5330 9520; Fax: +81-3-5330 9530