Although I realize the main purpose of Michael Hoffman’s June 6 article, “What will Japan learn from the Fukushima meltdowns?,” is to teach the Japanese language, he ought to learn more about a topic rather than pass off conventional wisdom as fact.
His article does not delve into the reasons for the impasse over nuclear power in Japan. It is not just that we are addicted to electricity and that the oil shock of the 1970s gave us no alternative. The political powers after World War II chose nuclear power generation as a happy face (Astro Boy) to give a cover for the nuclear weapons arms race during the Cold War. There was a deliberate propaganda campaign in Japan, led by Shoriki Matsutaro, to help sell America’s “safe atom” to Japan.
It is true that a transition to renewable energy would not be easy, but had we started 40 or 50 years ago, is there any doubt that today we could have built leafy-green, safe and pleasant cities rather than the overpopulated heat islands we now inhabit?
These kinds of outcomes are often presented as fate or as having occurred by democratic decision-making, when in reality there are always powerful economic and political interests pulling the puppet strings while societal welfare is sacrificed.
I would like to offer a solution to Hoffman’s impasse: Let’s reduce our energy consumption. How much energy do we consume that we don’t need? I would imagine a large amount. Rethinking our living and workplaces could bring about great reductions in energy use, and that would be an easy place to start.
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.
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