Clean up Fukushima or else

Two months since The Japan Times’ June 11 editorial “Cease promoting nuclear power,” things seem to have gotten alarmingly worse. The Japanese and the world community should come to terms with the hard reality that this island nation is the only one in human history to have suffered three nuclear disasters.

The first was the atomic bombing of two cities during World War II; the second was the March 1,1954, exposure of the tuna fishing boat Daigo Fukuryu Maru (Lucky Dragon 5) to deadly fallout from a hydrogen bomb test detonation on Bikini Atoll; and the third was the March 2011 Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant disaster.

The three episodes are products of human hubris — anything but acts of God.

Most disquieting is the cynical disregard for human life and dignity, as exemplified by the scant attention paid to the victims of the Fukushima nuclear crisis, that seems to continue unabated.

Some 150,000 Fukushima residents are left for homeless, and many others live in fear of exposure to radiation released by the crippled nuclear power plant. The power plant, meanwhile, is said to be releasing up to 300 tons of radioactive water each day into the Pacific Ocean, a valuable common asset for mankind.

The top priority for the Abe government should be to end the nuclear crisis as soon as possible by tapping all of the nation’s available economic and technological resources. The whole society would readily stand behind a government commitment to an early resolution of the nuclear crisis.

Unless we Japanese clean up the areas contaminated by the Fukushima disaster, decommission the damaged reactors and resettle all uprooted Fukushima residents, there will be little world demand for tarnished Japanese nuclear technology, or other high-tech goods for that matter, and Japan will not have a sustainable economic turnaround.

We of the young generation run the risk of facing a bleak future on a radiation-contaminated island nation.

marise shikawa
ohmiya senior high school
koshigaya, saitama

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.

  • Teddi

    How sad this letter is as the Japanese Govt print trillions of yen to throw at its stock market, but won’t deal with the reality of Fukushima. Those in the Govt that turn their back on its people are criminals and should be put to work at he facility cleaning up the radiation without contamination suits…

  • muzza

    What is the statistical likelihood — in an earthquake prone nation — of another earthquake tearing even bigger holes in the
    Fukushima complex before a clean up is effected? It has been two years already. My reading indicates there has been little or no progress in the present clean up effort..
    I live on the American west coast and this issue concerns me. Likely the Japanese are even more worried and rightfully so

  • Rockne O’Bannon

    I think if all Japanese people agreed with this letter, there would be no problem, and no Kyoto protocol, and no hope for a future without fossil fuels, and no TEPCO, and no budget for anything except “nuclear clean-up.” There is an old saying that I think fits here. “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath-water.” She and her family have benefited enormously from cheap power generated by nuclear reactors. I can’t think of a worthwhile technology that has not killed or maimed a few people. But where would we be if just wrote off trains, planes, and automobiles, which have killed more people in the last year or so than all the nuclear bombs, bomb tests, and accidents put together? Could Japan have even considered supporting the Kyoto Protocol if it had not had nuclear energy to fall back on? Whatever its faults, nuclear power helped Japanese society, and it still does.

    If nuclear power were “guns”, then I would be able to see Marise’s point. What good do they do? Agriculture dominated human nutrition LONG before guns were used for hunting. But nuclear power? It satisfies an important social need every day. Human beings are hungry enough for electricity that they will poison their air to debilitating levels with coal. China is doing it today. People in Fukushima used to be coal miners, but they were glad to rid of that dirty business. Nuclear power certainly has its good points.

    The good points are obvious to me, anyway. I bet Marise typed her letter on a computer, or wrote it by hand under a light bulb. Using TEPCO electricity. Couldn’t she have used a typewriter in the dark just to reinforce her point instead of reinforcing mine? No. Electricity is convenience. People won’t give up convenience. People can’t use typewriters anymore. If everyone agreed with Marise, we would not live in a Japan with everyone using typewriters. We would live in a Japan choked with coal smoke. And if I lived in Ohmiya, I would want to let people “somewhere else” choke on coal smoke so that I could use my computer. I would pay my bill and trust TEPCO to sort out the unpleasantness of those poor black lung victims “somewhere else.” It is just human nature.

    And THAT, not nuclear power, is the real problem.

    Exposing other people to risk and hazard while we enjoy convenience is reprehensible. People who are serious about this issue need to start by realizing that if TEPCO is culpable, so is every Tokyo rate-payer. And that includes Ms. Shikawa’s family. Anyone who is not supplying their own electricity might be talking the talk, but they aren’t walking the walk.

    I suppose that applies to nuclear weapons too. Japan benefits by a nuclear umbrella, and has been so protected for decades. Japan has not had to face the unpleasantness of truly defending itself, but it has let others “take care of that problem” for them. Does. This. Suggest a pattern to anyone?

    It does to me. Maybe what Japan needs to do is confront some extremely hard decisions that is has put off for a while. Clean, tidy, polite society has difficulty accepting the dangerous and dirty business of keeping all that together. When a tsunami pulls the curtain back, or China’s navy calls Japan’s bluff, reality is hard to accept. Japan COULD choose a different future by defending itself better while simultaneously increasing its reliance on fossil fuels, but it would not be clean, tidy, or polite. The reality is that Japan needs nuclear technology, just to be Japan.

  • Allen Snowdon

    I’m trying to imagine what this planet will be like when those fuel rods bump and start an uncontrollable above-ground fission. Japan can hopefully purchase a chunk of northern Australia for a new homeland.

  • artob2

    primarily correct. the justifications that we rely on electricity and therefore on nuclear power is past-minded and unable to grasp the possibility that we may have devised other technologies for producing electricity which were not as environmentally destructive as fossil fuel reliant practices. The link with weapons is also correct as mentioned below, but again, there are alternatives. The world does not have to be as mean and nasty as it currently is, if we choose to think differently. In fact, we may soon no longer have a choice. Nuclear power is too potentially destructive to use in Japan. The implications are too dire, as shown by the unfolding disaster. Particularly serious is the idea that Japanese products will be too contaminated to export. Again, the risk is just too great. And they call the Abe government conservative. I would call them radical. and reckless. And that is of course, not limited to Japan.

  • gokyo

    What an amazing coincidence that the Japanese economy has improved even though Japan has been without nuclear power for the last two years.