Takashi Sasaki: Unamuno's Japanese translator dies and refused to evacuate Fukushima | Culture
Takashi Sasaki, hispanist and translator to the Japanese by Miguel de Unamuno, who out of fidelity to the ideas of the Basque philosopher he refused to evacuate his city after the nuclear accident in the central Fukushima neighborhood, he died on the night of last Thursday (December 20) at age 79. "The Japanese government only cares about biological life and does not respect our biographical life," he had said, paraphrasing the Spanish author, explaining his rejection of the order to leave the city of Minamisoma before the risk of radiation after the explosions that occurred after of the earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011 at the Daichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima, located 25 kilometers to the south.
The Hispanist also argued that neither his mother nor his wife, a victim of senile dementia, could survive in one of the shelters set up by the government in the provinces neighboring Fukushima. Minamisoma, semi-desert and without supplies, was classified as "exclusion zone".
Sasaki, who started at the age of 72 in digital communications, began a blog that in honor of Unamuno called Monodiologists and he dedicated himself to denouncing the misinformation, the ineptitude of the Government and the regulating companies of the nuclear power to anticipate the disaster and face its serious consequences. The recurrent target of his criticism was the lack of individual responsibility fostered by the Japanese system, which encourages collective decision-making. His digital blog got thousands of followers and for many it was the only way to know the reality of what happened in the abandoned towns. The collected texts were translated into several languages and in Spanish they appeared with the title Fukushima: living the disaster, from the Satori publishing house.
Born in Obihiro, on the northern island of Hokaido, he spent part of his childhood in Manchuria, territory invaded by the Japanese army where his father was sent as an official. At the end of the Second World War, at the age of five, he returned to Japan and began living in the Fukushima province. He studied at the Jesuit University of Sofia, in Tokyo, where he met Catholicism and the Spanish philosophers who would guide his intellectual life and who would disseminate through numerous translations.
When the government lifted the ban on visiting Minamisoma, their house was a place of pilgrimage for supporters, Hispanists and journalists. Writers like Juan José Millás and artists like José María Sicilia They came to listen to his critical vision of a country that seemed, until the nuclear accident, the epitome of official honesty and technological excellence. Between 2017 and 2018 the publishing house Hosei Daigaku published its translations of The tragic sense of life Y The Christ of Velázquez, both of Unamuno, as well as an essay about the figure of the Bilbao-born thinker Philosophy of passion (Jonetsu no Tesugaku).
The last entry of his blog, published on the eve of his admission to the hospital where he was diagnosed with lung cancer that ended his life, contained a list of last wishes that remain on the web as his digital testament. He leaves his savings to his wife bedridden and his son's family. "I also want my granddaughter Ai to study at Seisen University," she says, referring to the women's university where Professor Sasaki taught, "hopes that Ai will specialize in Hispanic studies" and marries a young Spaniard who loves Japan and follows the work of the dissemination of the Spanish language of his grandfather. "He also asks his son to take charge of the correction and publication of his latest translations, a work by the Jesuit and pacifist Daniel Berrigan that he titled Kiki-wo Ikiru (Live the crisis) Y The Rebelion of the mass, of Ortega y Gasset.