Abe mum on Fukushima at U.N. disaster risk confab

Kyodo, JIJI, Staff Report

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had little to say on the tsunami-triggered core meltdowns in Fukushima as representatives from across the globe met at a U.N. conference on disaster risk reduction Sunday to underscore the urgent need to address climate change and reduce disaster impacts.

On the second day of the U.N. World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, French Minister of State for Development and Francophony Annick Girardin said climate change is responsible for over 80 percent of the damage caused by natural disasters.

The Sendai conference is “above all a call for lucidity, because it is no longer possible to ignore climate chaos” in the context of disaster risk mitigation, Girardin told the gathering, which began Saturday.

Meanwhile, in a speech Saturday at the conference, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had few words on the triple core meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant. The disaster in Fukushima Prefecture erupted after a massive quake on March 11, 2011, spawned huge tsunami that took out the plant’s cooling systems.

Abe’s speech was strongly criticized by Tamotsu Baba, mayor of the town of Namie.

“(Abe’s speech) was no good at all. He may not have wanted to give negative impressions (of Japan) because world leaders have gathered here,” Baba told reporters Saturday.

Namie is close to the plant, and about 21,000 of its residents were still living outside the town as of the end of February after losing their homes to radioactive fallout.

Speculation has been rife that Abe was attempting to avoid discussion about the Fukushima disaster because the No. 1 plant is plagued with radioactive water woes, including operator Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s failure to disclose the extent of the tainted water flowing into the Pacific.

Tests on samples of seawater and fish from sites close to the plant have shown no alarming signs for human health, apparently as the contaminated water is being diluted by the sea. This has prompted Abe to claim that, despite the continuing water woes and the harm that they are causing to local fishermen, the situation is “under control.”

During a session Sunday, Cabinet members from about 40 nations discussed post-disaster efforts to build more disaster-resistant communities.

“Japan has assumed the largest (possible) quake may hit the country, and has been preparing evacuation routes and strengthened (disaster) monitoring systems,” land minister Akihiro Ota said.

Japan also has taken steps to make houses and schools earthquake-proof since the Great Hanshin Earthquake struck the Kobe area in 1995, Ota said.

He said the nation will provide as much support as possible to Vanuatu, which was devastated by a massive cyclone over the weekend.

Meanwhile, Abe underlined the importance of female leadership in anti-disaster efforts.

“Women’s leadership is indeed essential in order to stand up to disasters,” Abe said in a dialogue session at the conference.

Because women’s perspectives have not been fully utilized in disaster prevention, Abe said, there is a need to consider measures that are friendly to women, who are more likely to face tougher situations than men when natural disasters hit.

In the Dialogue on Mobilizing Women’s Leadership in Disaster Risk Reduction, cochaired by internal affairs minister Sanae Takaichi, former Finnish President Tarja Halonen called for improving a disaster warning system to allow women in rural areas to obtain evacuation information promptly.

  • Liars N. Fools

    Of course Abe Shinzo has stayed silent. Despite not really getting Fukushima Daiichi under control, Abe consistently shows that same crony-filled nuclear 族 “zoku” or tribe is calling the shots and force feeding nuclear energy on Japan again even though Japan is well positioned to use solar, wind, and geothermal coupled with battery and fuel cell innovation to forge an energy revolution.

    This is shameful because Abe knows how many people have been left in the dark about their futures, their lives, and the continuing risks of his government’s policies.

    • Hendrix

      Absolutely, Abe is on the make here, also he lied his arse off for the olympic bid saying Tokyo never was or never will be affected by radiation… we are talking a meglomaniac here in charge of Japan with a willing population going along with it all.

  • Paul Johnny Lynn

    Japanese companies are apparently world leaders in geothermal energy technology. Within Japan itself, however, geothermal accounts for just 0.3% of the energy supply. Some supposed reason are that 1) the best areas are unavailable due to being in national parks, 2) onsen owners complain their resources will be drained. However, I don’t doubt that the powerful nuclear power companies have a hand in making sure nothing cuts into their revenue flow.

    • Sam Gilman

      It’s not quite as straightforward, unfortunately:

      http://www.geothermal-energy.org/pdf/IGAstandard/WGC/2010/0142.pdf

      The potential of geothermal resources for power generation in the country is estimated as approximately 23.5 GWe [my note: just under 20% of Japanese demand]. However, the installed geothermal power capacity is merely around 535 MWe as mentioned in the previous section. One of the factors hindering the development is a lack of appropriate techniques which is necessary to reduce the uncertainty of underground geothermal structure at the exploration stage. Another factor is that geothermal development takes a long period and requires substantial pre-investment. Therefore, even an ambitious company cannot always start a project. Furthermore, most of the geothermal resources immediately available for power generation have been already developed. Thus a technical break-through to develop unused geothermal resources is crucial.

      We certainly need to develop more geothermal, and in absolute terms there’s a lot of potential. However, we need to remember that we’re densely populated.

  • Starviking

    I find it strange that the Japan Times can publish this fact:

    “climate change is responsible for over 80 percent of the

    damage caused by natural disasters.”

    And then neglect to mention that nuclear power has a minimal contribution to climate change.

    Perhaps it is because of a need to keep stoking the anti-nuclear flames, like this:

    “Speculation has been rife that Abe was attempting to avoid discussion about the Fukushima disaster because the No. 1 plant is plagued with radioactive water woes, including operator Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s failure to disclose the extent of the tainted water flowing into the Pacific.”

    We do have an attempt to provide a sciency gloss to the scaremongering:

    “Tests on samples of seawater and fish from sites close to
    the plant have shown no alarming signs for human health, apparently as the contaminated water is being diluted by the sea.”

    The key phrases are “close to the plant” and “diluted by the sea”. If the samples are taken close to the plant, then they are only being diluted by a small volume of water – not “the sea” as a whole. This means that if any contaminated water is entering the ocean, it is either a very small amount, or not very contaminated.

    Can we have some factual science here, as opposed to fear-stirring sciency propaganda?