Reader Mail

Japan should not give up on nuclear power

Regarding the editorial “Time to rethink the nation’s post-3/11 energy policy” in the March 19 edition, it’s not time to give up on nuclear power in Japan. With the anniversary of the disaster at Fukushima No. 1 fresh in our minds, we must use that memory to strengthen the nuclear power industry, not give up on it. A failure in life is not a failure unless we fail to use it in creating future success. Walking away from nuclear power would cement that failure. The worldwide nuclear industry regrets the consequences of the Fukushima nuclear accident.

As nuclear industry professionals, we take responsibility for nuclear accidents wherever they happen. We owe it to the people of Japan to turn the myth of safety into the “truth of safety.” We must face our problems squarely using the truths of safety as stepping stones to the future.

All nations face man-made disasters. The Japanese people have faced many. Airline crashes, train accidents and shipwrecks have killed thousands in Japan. In America, the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster wrecked our Gulf of Mexico environment. We’ve had many other man-made disasters. We didn’t give up on trains, airplanes or oil drilling. Those failures led to future successes. Because of those successes, today, the numbers of air and train crash victims have dropped dramatically.

We don’t quit on our technologies because of a disaster, we learn from them. You are correct that “a vast majority of citizens remain wary of the safety of nuclear power — just as they were right after the disaster.” Imposing the world’s most stringent standards is insufficient to gain the trust of the Japanese people. Work remains in achieving the truth of safety.

As a world power, Japan must commit to a strong strategic energy strategy. That strategy should include safe and reliable nuclear power. As you say, the government’s pledge in the 2014 basic energy plan to reduce the nation’s dependency on nuclear energy was likely in response to popular sentiment. It’s hard to regain the loss of public trust for nuclear power. But Japan must do what’s hard for the sake of maintaining a strong national energy strategy. “Hard” should not be an excuse for abandoning a vital source of energy for the Japanese people.

Roughly 60 years ago, Japan’s industrial community transformed itself — and flourished as a result — when it embraced a new approach to managing quality after a historic eight-day seminar by Dr. W. Edwards Deming. There is every reason to hope that the diligent and committed embrace of the truth of safety culture principles will provide for Tepco, and the broader Japanese nuclear industry, a similar transformation. With that transformation will come the kind of global leadership and admiration that followed Japan’s embrace of quality more than a half-century ago.

Yes, the government should revisit the lessons of the Fukushima No. 1 accident. And the government should consider greater use of renewable energy, but it’s not time to give up on nuclear power. It’s not time to give up on the Japanese spirit to maintain its global leadership with nuclear power.

DR. CHARLES CASTO
MARIETTA, GEORGIA

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.