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In the debate about continued use of nuclear energy in Japan, I do not understand the demand to abandon nuclear energy unless industry and government can “prove to us that they are 100 percent confident that the plants are safe and that accidents such as those that occurred at Fukushima after March 11 will never happen again,” as Kristin Newton writes in her June 16 letter, “Proving one’s nuclear confidence.

If one refuses life choices without a foolproof guarantee of safety, then how can one live? Life is risky, all the time, and eventually every one of us will die. Failing a reliable safety guarantee, the next option is to define and pursue a reasonable degree of safety. That definition and pursuit ought to frame the debate, not a mawkish appeal to our or our children’s safety.

Demanding 100 percent safety is a fetish of the petulant and disgruntled who want to press their point in a time of crisis. It contravenes the definition of right reason.

Sometimes they have a good point, and sometimes they don’t. But the demand doesn’t get us anywhere. Getting out of bed in the morning is dangerous. You start your day and you don’t know how it will end. Accidents happen. That’s why they’re called that.

For the record, the nuclear industry is statistically safer than any other kind of commercial power production. We don’t need accidents like Fukushima, Chernobyl or Three Mile Island to tell us that nuclear power is dangerous.

We know it’s dangerous, and that excessive safety claims are mere rhetoric to help us live with ourselves.

Driving a car or flying in a commercial carrier are more dangerous (they kill or maim more people) than the nuclear industry, but we do not abandon them every time there is a highway accident or airline incident. But I could be wrong.

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.

grant piper

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