What’s important to the elite?

As William Pesek makes very clear in his Aug. 14/15 article “Fukushima replaces economy as Abe’s legacy issue,” it is truly mind-boggling that Japan’s most senior leaders don’t seem to be able to acknowledge the worst crisis in their nation’s history since the atomic bomb fell on Hiroshima.

This is no time for economic miracles or bubble economies. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe appears to be living in the past or simply wandering around dreaming of a nonexistent “beautiful Japan.” If Tokyo Electric Power Co. is deceitful, inept, corrupt, possibly guilty of professional and/or criminal negligence, so what?

Tepco’s continuing blunders and secretive approach to all cleanup operations in Fukushima is a glaring reminder that Japan’s “old boy” network is still very much intact. If the Liberal Democratic Party is all about money politics, then its $22 billion nuclear energy deal with Turkey in May — which Abe helped to close — was an indication that industrial growth for its own sake and money trumps all else in Japan (as in the United States).

Is the prime minister colluding with Tepco to keep a lid on the true extent of the radioactive disaster so as not to “jinx” the nuclear power plant deal with Turkey or other possible deals in the future with countries in need of “cheap” energy.

Back in 2011 the nuclear village took a massive radioactive dump on the trusting inhabitants of Fukushima, the surrounding prefectures in Tohoku and, indeed, on the entire nation. And now the village idiots act as if they don’t want to clean up their mess, even as the stench of it grows more repugnant by the day.

Greenpeace, the World Health Organization and the world’s media are all kept at arm’s length or ignored completely. Sometimes it’s nice to be an island nation. The Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Japan can, at times, seem like a vast moat keeping the rest of the world at a safe distance.

The pretense that the catastrophic 3/11 event was an “act of the gods” and could not have been anticipated by mortal man is just face-saving nonsense. How is it that the mayor of a small fishing village in Iwate Prefecture, the late Kotoku Wamura, was able not only to foresee the risk of another devastating tsunami along the Tohoku coast but also to take drastic action to keep his beloved town safe? The survival of Fudai must be a terrible embarrassment for those Japanese who continue to blame the heavens or their own culture for the horrible calamity that befell Fukushima.

It is a pity that the old boy network in Japan didn’t collapse during the same fateful week that the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant did. I fear it will take another such disaster to finally awaken the nation. The Emperor’s rare public commentary just after 3/11 seems to have fallen on deaf ears. And if Japan’s ruling elite won’t listen to the Emperor, they won’t listen to anyone. Ah, what hubris.

robert mckinney
otaru, hokkaido

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.