Cease promoting nuclear power

Meeting in Tokyo on June 7, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and French President Francois Hollande agreed to cooperate on the development of a nuclear fuel cycle and the export of nuclear power technology. Mr. Abe’s decision to push forward with nuclear power technology is deplorable given the damage caused by the ongoing crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

Mr. Abe and Mr. Hollande also agreed to launch talks between their countries’ foreign and defense ministers on the joint development of defense equipment. This decision, which could lead to use of weapons jointly developed by Japan and France in military conflicts, shows that Mr. Abe has little respect for the Constitution’s no-war principle.

Mr. Abe’s decision to move forward with the development of nuclear power technology represents his cynical disregard for the victims of the Fukushima nuclear crisis. Some 150,000 Fukushima residents still cannot return home due to radioactive contamination and many others live in fear of exposure to radiation released by the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

In May, Mr. Abe signed agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Turkey to enable the export of Japanese nuclear technology to them. At a joint news conference with Mr. Hollande, he said, “Japan will respond to expectations about Japan’s nuclear power technology from the viewpoint of enhancing the world’s safety level (in nuclear power generation).” If the prime minister seriously considered the ramifications of the Fukushima disaster, he could not have made such a statement.

The timing of the prime minister’s misguided plan could not have been worse. On June 7, Southern California Edison announced that it will permanently shutter two reactors built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries at its San Onofre nuclear power station after discovering that their steam generators have dangerous defects that could cause a nuclear accident.

In an attempt to resurrect Japan’s nuclear fuel cycle endeavor, Mr. Abe and Mr. Hollande have agreed to jointly develop a new type of fast reactor based on the same type of concept used in Japan’ Monju reactor in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture, the core component of Japan’s nuclear fuel cycle project. They also agreed to cooperate on starting “the safe and stable operation” of the spent nuclear fuel reprocessing plant in Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture, another important component of the project.

But the project, for which Japan has spent nearly ¥10 trillion, is almost bankrupt. The Monju reactor has been inoperative for most of the past 19 years while Rokkasho reprocessing plant’s full operation has been postponed 19 times due to a series of problems. The Japan Atomic Energy Agency, the operator of Monju, failed to inspect nearly 10,000 reactor components in and after 2010, and the Nuclear Regulation Authority ordered the JAEA not to prepare to restart the trouble-plagued Monju until it improves its safety management.

Mr. Abe should stop promoting nuclear energy. Even if the Rokkasho plant becomes fully operative, the resulting plutonium production will increase the danger of nuclear proliferation. If Japan and France wish to cooperate on nuclear energy, they should focus their efforts on cleaning up the areas contaminated by the Fukushima disaster and decommissioning the damaged reactors.

  • forsetiboston

    I would suggest, Japan – much like the US sit back and watch while China blows by the rest of us. It’s impossible to think you will maintain any kind of manufacturing and/or research base without steady, reliable energy. Instead of tackling the hard questions, like “nuclear power has drawbacks, but with the given (baseload) alternatives, gas, coal, etc., will we be better off?”

    Specifically in Japan which has little to no natural resources to for power production to speak of. I know, I know, “solar!” “wind!” I can hear the fan boys already. Easy question for them, to replace 1000’s of baseload MWs how much land area do you suspect we would need? How much for battery backup – or do you just keep relying on imported fuels to cover that small gap in generation we call “night?”

    This opinion is just that, one view, with no indication of which camp this person comes from. It has some facts, and some misleading opinions but as I like to say to my favorite summertime Greenpeace interns on the street when they ask me to sign. “How do you plan to replace that nuclear generation?” How will we replace the 24/7 – 365 always on type of power coming from the nuclear plants? I know, I know fan boys, I heard you already “solar!” “wind!” I get it, we’ve been saying it for decades but this time it’s different!

    So before you go buying into a biased opinion like this, I would suggest you look at who truly are the ones who gain from all this type of lopsided opinion. The nuclear “mafia” that many people like to paint with a broad brush, or the oil (natgas) and coal profiteers? Doesn’t take a rocket “surgeon” to sort that one out. Once again, I know, we don’t need any of them, “solar!” and “wind!” to save the day. Thanks, I got that memo in the 70’s.

    • Bob Wallace

      The saddest part is that nuclear is actually quite a safe way to produce energy. Much safer than coal and natural gas, and believe it or not safer than the solar industry due to the work on rooftops and the fires that the systems sometimes cause.

      It is quite frustrating how the general population is so misinformed and prey to horrendous propaganda.

      • Mark Garrett

        Yes, because Fukushima was and is obviously nothing more than a horrendous propaganda machine. The findings of the NRC and other industry experts are nothing more than hateful spin used to pull the wool over ours eyes to hide the real truth that the Tohoku area is, in actuality, a vibrant and healthy community. For that matter, I suppose Minamata didn’t happen either.

        Or, you could choose to believe the experts and accept that this was, and is, one of the worst man-made disasters in human history. An event that came perilously close to causing the world’s largest city to cease to exist.

        I get so sick of hearing about Japan’s “lack of resources”. What utter hogwash. Japan has arguably the highest concentration of “green” resources of any developed country on the planet. Solar, wind, river/wave/and currents, geothermal, etc…

        Japanese are a people that excel in solving problems. The sooner we scrap nuclear and set out to solve the energy problem, the sooner the innovations and advances that this country are famous for will take place. We’ve only scratched the surface of what is possible.

      • Mark Garrett

        Case in point:


        According to a report by energy analyst IHS on Japan’s energy mix, Japan’s solar installations jumped by “a stunning 270% (in gigawatts) in the first quarter of 2013.” That means by the end of 2013 there will be enough new solar panels equal to the capacity of seven nuclear reactors. Such massive growth will allow Japan to surpass Germany and become the world’s largest photovoltaics (PV) market in terms of revenue this year.
        “Japan is forecast to install $20 billion worth of PV systems in 2013, up 82% from $11 billion in 2012,” IHS said.

      • Sam Gilman

        Mark, you really need to read that article carefully.

        A 26.5 gigawatt solar power plant in western Japan, enough to power 9,000 households, opened last month

        The numbers are clearly wrong. To the best of my understanding, that 26.5 gigawatt number appears to have been a severely mistaken cut and paste from Wikipedia.

        The article however correctly reveals that electricity suppliers are obliged pay incredibly high prices for solar. I’m not against subsidy (there’s no escaping that de-carbonisation is more expensive that fossil fuels), but I am against people using the speed of expansion as evidence of success when it’s being subsidised to this massive extent. Of course solar is expanding fast. It’s being subsidised massively. Let’s be honest. If nuclear received the same per-watt subsidy, you’d be foaming at the mouth, wouldn’t you?

        The article repeatedly refers to Germany. Do you know how much German solar actually contributes to German electricity needs? 5%. After all that money invested, it contributes five per cent. True, occasionally (say, for three hours over a May lunchtime when the sun is shining) it provides 50% of needs, but precisely because this “average five percent” can vary so much, it’s putting a hell of a strain on the German grid.

      • What was the running death count from the reactor explosion and resultant radiation leak?

        Oh wait…

        A worse disaster would have been had that plant been a hydroelectric dam, which when it burst, would have unleashed a torrential flood, destroying everything and everyone in its path.

        The worst disaster of all would be living in a constant state of power scarcity as result of the use of solar and wind power plants. Reliable power is life. Imagine going to a hospital where there are rolling blackouts, or whose fees have skyrocketed due to dependence on imported oil.

        Even if these alternative power sources could be upgraded to be efficient enough to handle power needs, there is no free market in the power industry to incentivize more research and development of those kinds of solutions, or to be receptive to people demands about safety in their area.

        What we have instead, is a virtually nationalized government monopoly, with just enough of a “front” to fit everything that goes wrong into the “greedy uncaring corporations” narrative as to allow the government to escape the complete blame that it deserves.

        If the state had gotten out of the way from the beginning, we would have never had this problem in the first place: Centralized power sources are vulnerable to natural disasters as well as terrorist attacks. They would have been a thing of the past. Instead we’re stuck with the status quo. So long as people’s idea of a political alternative is the same broken statist policies enacted by a different name and face, they are going to get the same results.

      • Masa Chekov

        Which “experts” are you referring to? The scientific consensus that there is likely to be no net negative health impact on the people of Tohoku? Because that’s what the experts are saying, not the activist “experts” with their little blogs and zero scientific rigor or credibility.

        “An event that came perilously close to causing the world’s largest city to cease to exist.”

        There was never any such risk. Only “Savior of Japan Kan” and his people say these things.

        “I get so sick of hearing about Japan’s “lack of resources”. What utter hogwash.”

        Oh really? What is your scientific backing for this comment? Please explain how Japan can move to these methods of power generation right now. Explain where the money is going to come from to develop this. And please do not say merely “Japanese people are smart, they can figure this out.” That is a pointless response.

      • Bob Wallace

        Mark Garret represents a the misinformed general population.

        He has good intentions but no real understanding of the risks associated with nuclear power, or the practicalities of the alternatives. The general population is in dire need of a basic education regarding energy policy.

      • forsetiboston

        Not just the money, let’s talk about the sheer land area

        required for these solar initiatives that are ever so popular. How many panels do you suspect, it would take to power the train system of JR alone? That is passenger and freight service (which yes in Japan freight also has a large electric component). Then lets talk about the land area of the islands of Japan.

        Let’s set out to solve the energy issue, one that we have been ignoring for all of these years. Because solar is ‘almost’ there, ‘almost’ at parity (with current subsidies of course) and by parity we are talking financial. Because as many of us know, solar and wind tend to have horrible capacity factors. But wait, what about the batteries? Perhaps in Japan we could just excavate much of the island and put those underground since power Japan with wind and solar would require covering all of Japan (to start) in panels.

        I digress, here in California a very solar friendly place, based on CalISO data solar peaked at 1700MW around noon was on a steep slope up to that point and a steep slope down after that. Great way to run your industrial base, I am sure we can modify manufacturing to produce between 10am and 2pm.

      • Bob Wallace

        The media has done quite a good job of painting the picture that solar panels and wind turbines are ready to power the entire world. Ask any young person and they likely subscribe to this belief because they lack any general understanding of electrical supply. Solar and wind have their applications, but nuclear is really necessary if the world is to significantly cut emissions.

      • Bob Wallace

        One of the worst man-made disasters in history!? A ‘disaster’ in which no radiation related fatalities occurred and the world health organization projects that future fatalities related to the radiation will be undetectable?

        Mark Garrett, you know nothing about the economics or scalabilities of solar, wind, geothermal, hydro etc. If it were that easy and practical to produce our energy by these methods then the world would be doing it by now, but as it stands renewable energy is mostly a variable and expensive source that lends marginal contribution to overall energy usage.

        Be informed, not opinionated.

      • Mark Garrett

        Quite obviously it is you that is misinformed.

        Since when is a disaster rated solely on fatalities? There are many criteria to consider and loss of life is but one.

        What about the economic and social impact? Conservative estimates put the cost at between $250-$500 billion. 160,000 people were exiled from their lifelong homes and land…forever.

        And of course the environmental impact.

        30,000sq km contaminated by long-lived radioactive Cesium-137. 800sq km declared a PERMANENT exclusion zone. This cesium has been detected in a large range of Japanese foodstuffs, including spinach, tea leaves, milk, beef, and freshwater fish up to 200 miles from Fukushima. While it may be difficult to count the number of fatalities directly attributable to the emitted radiation, the effects of exposure over time are indisputable.

        Decontamination in the exclusion zones has so far been a failure as melting snow and rainwater simply recontaminate areas. Oh, and we can’t forget that the largest discharge of radioactive material into the ocean in history has been taking place. 56% of all fish catches off the coast of Japan were found to contain radioactive cesium and fishing continues to be banned off the coast of Fukushima.

        And what’s REALLY important to remember is that this is the gift that keeps on giving. It’s been over 2 years now and the destroyed reactors and fuel ponds are still far from being stabilized. Reactors #1, #2 and #3 every day discharge radioactive gases that emit a billion becquerels of radiation.10 tons of sea water is poured on the melted cores daily to keep them cool and that water has been found to be leaking from many different places.

        As far as alternative green energy, you are clearly the one who is uninformed. In 2012 around $80bn was invested in wind farms and turbines worldwide, a record-breaking year. That brings global production to 282 gigawatts or 3% of the world’s electrical demand.

        You can read the article I posted regarding Japan and solar power. It reads just like wind. Costs dropping, efficiency rising, etc. It would take only 0.3% of the world’s land area to supply all of our electricity needs, and that’s based on today’s technology. Why is it better than nuclear? Well, weight for weight, advanced silicon based solar cells generate the same amount of electricity over their lifetime as nuclear fuel rods, without the hazardous waste. And all of the components of a solar panel can be recycled where nuclear waste lasts thousands of years.

        Again, I’ll go back to what I said originally, the sooner Japan ditches nuclear power and commits to green energy, the sooner major advances will be made and we can all look back on this time in our lives as a crossroads where we made the hard but right choice.

        My kids will thank me and yours will thank you.

      • Bob Wallace

        Well excuse me Mark but I work as an engineer in the solar PV industry so you are the one that is misinformed.
        You seem to forget that solar PV and wind are variable sources, meaning that without expensive energy storage it isn’t practical to supply large amounts of our generation.

        Secondly nuclear waste, or more correctly ‘spent fuel’, is actually a resource that can be burned in modern fast reactors which not only create energy from the waste but decrease the volume and bring the half-life down to around 300 years.

        Thirdly the amount of nuclear waste created in the first place is actually very small. About 1/5 of the US has been powered by nuclear for decades, yet all of the waste produced could be contained in the area the size of a football field, and that is before the consideration of being re-utilized in a fast reactor.

        Not all solar panels contain silicon cells, many use Arsenide and Cadmium. Not all components of a solar panel are recyclable and recycling is a difficult process in the first place given that the cells are encapsulated. Solar and wind are great but to continue to decrease emissions we really need nuclear.

        Fukushima was a terrible and costly accident, but the circumstance involved an out-of-date reactor, and the employment of poor safety precaution by humans (lack of on-site electricity to power cooling faculties). The 7.1 magnitude earthquake and ensuing tsunami would not have caused the same result in a modern reactor where redundant passive safety systems would have ensured cooling even in the absence of human intervention and an outside power source.

        It would be a shame if we didn’t continue to use nuclear power for the betterment of the global environment. A 30 km exclusion zone is terrible, but even if we had affordable energy storage all of the raw materials needed for wind turbines and solar panels to power the world would require mining that would take up much much more land than 30 sq km, not to mention the footprint of the turbines and panels themselves and the potential effect on climate.

        read this:

        I think you need to dig a little further into the economic, electrical, and environmental practicalities of powering the world with wind and solar alone. We need nuclear if we want to decrease warming.

      • Sam Gilman

        Mark, it’s surprising, given your claim to be scientifically based, that you say lots of things which are simply untrue.

        First of all, the accident at Fukushima daiichi did not come close to destroying Toyko. That’s simply untrue. I have to conclude you don’t understand how nuclear reactors work or how nuclear material can pose a threat, if you’re prepared to accept without question what is actually a piece of propaganda planted in the media by Naoto Kan and his various agents. To have made Tokyo uninhabitable would have required a mechanism for spreading enough nuclear material from the plant directly onto Tokyo. Even the wildest gaming fantasies of overseas scientists being set the question at the time of the accident, when uncertainty was highest, of whether Tokyo was at risk, were basically beyond the bounds of reality. I assume you were in Japan at the time – how did this pass you by?

        Second, it’s simply untrue that the evacuation zone is permanently uninhabitable. Restrictions are being lifted on various areas already. You’re clearly passionate about the topic, so I presume you’ve taken the time to read up on the relationship between radiation and health risk. In which case, I’m surprised you think the evacuation zone is going to be permanently uninhabitable. I’d agree the clean-up hasn’t gone well, but that’s very different to the hyperventilated phrasing you use of people being banished forever. I’m not sure why you chose to use language which goes quite against the best science available.

        Thirdly, it’s misleading to the point of straightforward deception for someone like yourself, Mark, a man committed to science, to conflate detection of caesium with danger from caesium. You obviously know perfectly well that radiation equipment can detect fluctuations in radiation magnitudes less than what can actually harm people. I’m not quite sure what made you depart from your commendable commitment to the best science there.

        I could go on – about nuclear waste, about what appear to be very unscientific predictions about future health consequences and so on, but,…well, all I can say is I think you need to re-examine your commitment to evidence. Too much of what you say isn’t backed up by it.

      • Bob Wallace

        Lol, quite a snarky response. Funny how people are so terrified of something (radiation) that they know nothing about.

      • GRLCowan

        I was struck by the poll — conducted when, as now, Japanese government was allowing exactly two of its nuclear power reactors to run, and deprive it of gas revenue — that allowed Japanese citizens to pick one of five options with respect to this running (and revenue cancellation).

        The options were as follows: that it be “continued without being stopped”, “stopped after the 2030s”, “stopped in the 2030s”, “stopped before 2030”, or “stopped immediately”.

        Astonishingly, not a single respondent to the poll was registered as supporting an increase in nuclear power production!

        … and, did I mention, gas revenue cancellation.

    • China is not going to blow by anyone. Their culture is quality-phobic, and their real estate bubble is going to go “POP!” in the near-future.

      It’s not like it’s an achievement to pass Japan or the USA anyway. That’s like being an adult and winning the baby Olympics, when the baby Olympics are the only Olympics that exist anymore.

      Just because you become the best mankind has to offer at whatever point in time, does not make you good. It just makes you better than the other idiots that happen to be taking up space on this planet. Success has an objective criterion, not primarily a comparative one.

      • forsetiboston

        Fair enough and thanks for the intellectual response. I guess my point was simply that China are building fairly sizable amounts of baseload generation while we in the West, Japan, Taiwan (with anti-nuke protests recently) are looking to demonize very well established, and yes overall very safe nuclear programs. There is this popular myth out there in the, for lack of a better term, ‘un-enlightened’ energy crowd that between sun, water, and wind we have all the power we could ever possibly want! Sometimes I try to use a bit of an emotional response to send home an issue that tends more to the emotional than to the scientific. Thanks again for the thought provoking response.

  • Guest

    Is it now the Japan Times’s editorial policy to publish a new anti-nuclear editorial every few days? It looks like at a minimum 2-3 times a week there is a new editorial or article or feature decrying nuclear power. It’s honestly getting quite tiring.

    Have you considered some balance in your coverage? If it were easy, safe and feasible to move from nuclear to generate Japan’s power requirements then we would have done so already. The switch away from nuclear has led to increased carbon emissions and degradation of air quality – what are the health impacts of this? What about the economic impacts of having to import so much fossil fuels to run these old plants? These are not minor considerations, you know.

    Fukushima Daiichi was a horrible tragedy with long-term repercussions – we should do everything possible to minimize the chance of something like it happening again. But let’s not act like turning away from nuclear power is going to make everyone’s lives happy and healthy again. Look at coal-fired plants in the US – the American Lung Association estimates that 24,000 premature deaths occur EVERY YEAR in the US due to the pollution from these plants – that is a constant tragedy. Is nuclear worse than this?

    So please, respect the intelligence of your readers – don’t just say “Down with nuclear!” but kindly propose some real solutions to Japan’s energy problems. Solutions we can use NOW – not “Let’s switch to renewables in 30 years”

    • GRLCowan

      I think you’ll find the natural gas interests have no difficulty asserting that renewables are totally competitive right now. Indeed, that assertion is a dead giveaway.

    • Bob Wallace

      The other thing to note is that not a single fatality occurred due to radiation at Fukushima, and future deaths are predicted to be at an “undetectable level” by the World Health Organization.

      Nonetheless we should not allow such an accident to occur again, and if one is informed about nuclear technology information rather than just prey to propaganda, then one can surmise that nuclear can in fact be safe even in the worse-case of an earthquake and tsunami.

    • kyushuphil

      ” . . . respect the intelligence of your readers?”

      OK, Masa. Can we factor in the lingering poisons from nukes that will last thousands of years? That is, there is no way safely to store the nuke residues — the toxic waters, the toxic cells — none, zero.

      How “intelligent” do you suppose we may be who wonder how many governments 500 years from now, 1,000 years from now, will be happy to pay for our poisons?

      • GRLCowan

        “How “intelligent” do you suppose we may be who wonder” — well, you seem rather credulous.

        “Nuke residues” from nuclear power that has replaced five cubic miles of oil, or some much larger volume of gas, have been stored, entirely without harm to any neighbours of any such cache, ever. Here are some such neighbours, choosing to be rather close: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152583249985451 . If imperial Rome had been nuclear-powered, and the rods behind them dated from then, the cask walls would be unnecessary.

        Meanwhile, oil and gas have real waste problems, both acute (carbon monoxide disasters) and chronic (global warming), but governments make money on them.

      • Sam Gilman


        I’ve just had an idea. Could you provide some comparative figures of deaths per unit of electricity generated? Perhaps that might provide a balanced way of looking at energy choices.

        The thing is, whatever the dangers of nuclear waste are, as far as I understand, they are seriously dwarfed by the present and future dangers of fossil fuels.

        (But I don’t notice you getting very angry about fossil fuels.)

      • kyushuphil

        Sam, I live immediately downwind from Chinese pollution.

        That is, the entire globe is downwind from the fossil fuel emissions China keeps producing. Here in Japan it’s known as “yellow dust,” when the skies fill with such-tinted particulates that lend a ghoulish haze even to sunny days.

        And, yes, I abhor that — as I do the sprawl culture in America which models for all the world a lifestyle based on cars, highways, and massed asphalt and conrete lagoons around all the shpping malls which have replaced and are still replacing traditional farmlands everyhere.

        As per accounting of deaths per unit — nuke poisons vs. fossil fuel poisons — who can count that far into the future, as we see and breathe in the putrid skies now, but those other toxins will be yet leaking into soils, water, and air for centuries we can now scarcely count or measure.

      • Sam Gilman

        You say:

        As per accounting of deaths per unit — nuke poisons vs. fossil fuel poisons — who can count that far into the future

        Phil, you’re confusing the exact future (which – of course – we can’t know) with probable futures, which we can do our best to estimate.

        It’s almost as if you’re trying to find reasons to reject nuclear power, rather than base your choice of energy on evidence. In fact, you’re trying to say “there can be no evidence for this, therefore I believe it.”, which is pretty much a kind of theology.

        All forms of energy generation produce harm, as does the absence of energy. We can make our best estimate of the impact of this harm, now and in the future. And then we make a choice. The impact of fossil fuels now and in the future is obviously far worse than nuclear (seriously, go look at the figures, including estimates for deaths from global warming). We evacuated around Fukushima to prevent cancers, yet more cancers are caused by fossil fuels in Japan every year than will ever be caused by Fukushima radiation. (Even in the earthquake: Do you remember how Kesennuma burned? That was caused by the leaking of fossil fuels.)

        And if you are interested in preventing the encroachment of concrete and the preservation of the environment, you should be pro nuclear. Because it is energy dense, it does not take up much space. It does not require the redirection of rivers, it does not pollute the air, it does not require anything like as much concrete as renewables do. Even a disaster as serious as Chernobyl, any ecological impact has been very local. Nothing like yellow dust, or oil slicks, or whatever. Nuclear energy presents a human health & safety threat, but not an environmental one.

      • kyushuphil

        Thanks, Sam.

        I respect your reasoning. Your facts, or the facts as you present them, make sense.

        Even more, I appreciate your tone — civil, decent, yet cogent with genuine concern for the all-too-real and all-too-out-of-proportion damages of the fossil fuel poisons.

        I wonder, though — where are the architects? All that anyone designs anymore always obliges mega energy use, fossil or nuke. Office towers and shopping malls alike have hermetically-sealed windows — no fresh air possible even on the many days this makes sense. Almost no appealing staircases ever in sight — one must use only the energy dependent elevators and escalators. Don’t any architgects live in the real world? Do they all so hate nature?

    • Sister Jane

      The Japan Times probably would not do anti-nuclear editorials if there had never been one of the worst Nuclear accidents in recorded history in Fukushima. (They still have not contained the disaster, and they still would like to reopen and restart some of these plants.) People are planting rice and food produce in the effected areas, also the fish in the area are contaminated, you go to the Super and you cannot tell what’s good and bad anywhere in Japan now, at times the produce does not say where it came from even. When Tepco and the government really seem serious about this tragedy, then perhaps the anti-nuclear stance well cool down, but don’t hold your breath waiting for the seriousness of the issue to sink in.

      • Guest

        “The Japan Times probably would not do anti-nuclear editorials if there
        had never been one of the worst Nuclear accidents in recorded history in

        Well why not? Has the fundamental safety of nuclear power changed? It’s quite obvious that the root cause of Fukushima was not nuclear power itself but bad disaster mitigation planning and incompetence on the part of the regulatory body. We’ve learned these lessons now, right?

        “you cannot tell what’s good and bad anywhere in Japan now”

        Sorry, but could you before? Do you know when you go to the store if the food you are buying is contaminated by pesticides or industrial chemicals (as in the case of the tainted gyoza a few years back), or has e coli contamination? Of course you don’t, that’s why food is tested. It was tested before, it’s tested now. Why would you trust the food supply more or less now than before?

        “When Tepco and the government really seem serious about this tragedy”

        Why do you say that they are not? Look at the intense evaluation of Tsuruga and Monju for potential active faults. Look at all the cleanup work going on on site at Fukushima Daiichi. What exactly do they need to do for you to consider their response as “serious”?

      • Sister Jane

        We agree to disagree on this one, it was not incompetence just on the regulatory body, the word fraud sticks out to me the most.
        You are correct about the super market problem, the thing I have heard from many Japanese organic farmers is, you best assume everything you buy in the super market is full of pesticides and Industrial fertilizers, the same holds true almost anywhere. However the Fukushima disaster presents one more problem with the food supply. So in reply to your question, I don’t trust the food supply almost anywhere, and truthfully when you go out to eat, it’s even worse. I do not consider the government or Tepco as being truthful, and until they can prove differently that’s how it will remain for me personally, however your mileage may differ, so good luck with that.

      • Guest

        Oh hey, I don’t trust either the government or Tepco either, don’t get me wrong, it just seems like they are making an appearance at being serious, so I am not sure why you say they aren’t.

        I sat through a lecture by on the “root causes” of Fukushima Dai-ichi by one of the head people from the NSC (I forget the name off the top of my head). He said the “root cause” was faulty design by GE, who didn’t understand the seismicity of Japan and susceptibility of Japan to tsunami. To me, that attitude is less one of fraud and more of ignorance. I resisted the urge to throw my notebook at him, unfortunately.

        I believe in nuclear power in general, but with guys like that running the regulation in Japan I find it hard to ever fully trust the implementation of nuclear power here.

      • Sister Jane

        Making just an appearance at being serious is basically the same as not being serious in the end, the government and Tepco have to make the appearance, otherwise they would all be in deep trouble. I do disagree only in part, because they are committing fraud, this is a much more serious disaster then what they portray it as, and it still is a deadly serious situation at the Fukushima plant at the present time.

  • Felicity Electric

    Great to read an editorial that makes sense for once. Monju and other nuclear reactors make no sense – economically, energy-wise and especially not health wise!

  • Osaka48

    What did we learn from Fukushima? IMO, that the plant could survive the worst case earthquake…but that “too optimistic” thinking put the emergency generators in “harms way” of a tsunami of such magnitude…that it overwhelmed them, and knocked them out.

    This (to me) doesn’t indicate a “problem” with nuclear power…it represents a “problem” with nuclear power plant backup systems, and “worst case scenario” thinking. With nuclear power plants, can one be “too cautious”?

    If the Fuskushima emergency generators were less “vulnerable” to the tsunami, we wouldn’t have this crisis.

    • You might even say that the tsunami and earthquake effectively showed how safe nuclear power is. You might even say it has proven how great an alternative nuclear power is.

      If it were a hydroelectric dam that got hit, it would have been breached and the torrential waters would have annihilated everything that wasn’t already annihilated in the area. If it was a solar plant, the resulting fires from cracked panels would have spread to the batteries and exploded. If it were wind power, Japan would have lost billions of dollars when all the wind farms were wiped by massive waves.

      Instead of worry about emergency generators though, I would like to reevaluate the notion of having a “central power source” at all, and instead look at having thousands of less dangerous, less powerful, mini-reactors. Those who do not feel safe with those, could seek an area away from them powered by another alternative energy source too. Oh, getting too far ahead of myself, there’s no free market in energy here to provide that…well…anyway…

      • Estim8z

        Your comment is a slap in the face to the men women and children who are currently suffering from radiation sickness, and a host of systemic diseases and very probably cancers as a result of this nuclear plant failing. You must make a living off of nuclear. Maybe you can give back to those who now suffer because of it? Those people who have been harmed by this accident were in those towns long before the nuclear plants arrived. If nuclear contamination is benign, i know where you can buy some cheap protected forest in Ukraine. But you probably wouldn’t want that in your back yard. How inhumane and thoughtless of me.

      • I’ll agree with you when you do the following:

        1) Link to actual evidence of people suffering from “radiation sickness” and “systemic diseases”.

        2) Prove that it was not the moral hazard of government regulatory monopolization in nuke power that resulted in having so many leftover rods in the Daichi plant; so a similar situation would have arisen no matter who was making the rules.

        3) Suggest a safe, economical alternative for the power needs of 128 million people.

  • Estim8z

    It has been proven that the thorus didn’t survive the earthquake. The reactors failed. And Utterly failed. Eastern Japan is contaminated and uninhabitable at least and the pacific ocean is buoying up dead and diseased animals on the California coast. Just because it didn’t create a catastrophic explosion doesn’t mean it is benign. This well get worse and worse for centuries and then we will realize whose comments were right and what the US Government and Japanese government was covering up. It takes 20 generations for radiation induced DNA damage to manifest itself, this has been established and understood by biological engineers for decades. We still have 18 more generations until we see the full effect of Chernobyl, and Fukushima has released 30 times more cesium, and probably 30 time more of plutonium, tritium, xenon, thorium, lead, krypton, etc, etc,etc, and other Trans-Uranic isotopes. At least you can turn coal off when you want to!!