"No more Hiroshimas!" "No more Fukushimas!" Those slogans are chanted together at rallies by Japanese who want both an end to nuclear power in the island nation and an end to nuclear weapons around the world. But many in this city, where the world's first atomic-bomb attack killed tens of thousands, are distressed by efforts to connect their suffering to the tsunami-triggered meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant.
The Japanese government has detected 44 confirmed and suspected cases of thyroid cancer among the 217,000 youngsters, 18 and under, checked in Fukushima. Thyroid cancer among children is generally rare, estimated at only one in a million. The link to radiation is still inconclusive, and extensive testing of Fukushima children could account for the higher numbers. But according to the World Health Organization, thyroid cancer struck thousands of people after the only nuclear-plant disaster worse than Fukushima, the 1986 Chernobyl meltdown in what is now Ukraine.
Robert Jacobs, professor at the Hiroshima Peace Institute, sees similarities between Hiroshima and Fukushima, calling the latter a "slow-motion nuclear war." He said the cumulative radiation dosage from Fukushima could be quite significant because the leaks are likely to continue for decades.
Some medical experts are worried about sickness that may emerge in coming years, although the amount of deadly energy released at the moment of the atomic bombing was far greater than what spewed from Fukushima.
Hiromichi Ugaya, a former journalist at the Asahi newspaper who has been documenting Fukushima, said it is "an irony of history" that Japan failed to prevent the world's second-worst nuclear-plant disaster, even though it is the only country on Earth to have been attacked with nuclear weapons.
"Japan was the one country that should have been careful with nuclear technology," said Ugaya, who recently wrote a book called "Road From Hiroshima to Fukushima."
He considers nuclear weapons and nuclear power to share a historical backdrop. "The atomic bomb and nuclear power are like twin siblings if you trace their history," he said.