Nuclear retreat signals decline

In his March 12 Community page article, “Do dire predictions for Japan factor in a rush for the exits?,” Colin P.A. Jones makes a tragic error, an error repeated all too often in the media by those critical of both nuclear power and Japan’s general direction. He sees the government’s response to the Fukushima accident as symptomatic of a deeper malaise in Japan itself. This is wrong for two reasons.

For one, the government’s handling of the situation, despite problems, has been praised by international bodies like the International Atomic Energy Agency. If anything, authorities were overcautious in response to an accident that resulted in zero deaths or injuries. More importantly, far from the Fukushima accident illustrating the government’s misplaced priorities, Japan’s retreat from nuclear power is part of its general decline.

This irony is not lost on observers of Japan’s economic and diplomatic rival, China, which has displayed a much more pragmatic and rational approach to nuclear energy.

Following the accident at Fukushima, that country launched a nationwide safety review. Construction resumed last year, and there are now 30 plants under construction.

China’s nuclear boom is emblematic of the country’s economic and technological growth, and those plants will provide power to the nation’s factories, many of which, by the way, are busy making things once made in Japan. By comparison, Japan seems obsessed with navel-gazing and is even considering a permanent return to the evils of coal, oil and gas.

It’s enough to make anyone “rush for the exits.”

michael radcliffe
yokohama

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.