Apr 4, 2011

The Japanese Government Should Share the Lesson of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Over the World

Kazuyo Katsuma wrote the article "A Proposal about the Nuclear Accident – We Should Stop a Risk Causing New Risks" on the website "REAL-JAPAN.ORG".

This journal is a comment on her article.

We should think of two aspects of the Fukushima nuclear accident. First is the technical and scientific aspect of nuclear power plants, for example, how radioactive materials leak from the nuclear power stations, how radioactive contamination affects human health and so on. Second is the institutional and human aspect of management of the whole nuclear power system in Japan, which is led by The Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), Nuclear Safety Commission (NSC) and Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA).

I'm not an expert of the technical aspect of nuclear power plants, and I'll not make a comment about the first aspect.

On the second aspect, it is clear that the Japanese government reformed the laws and institution of the safe management of the nuclear power, but they have not been adequately functioning, and responses of Tepco and NISA to this accident have numerous problems.

The fact that IAEA requested Tepco and NISA to be more transparent, indicates that not only ordinary people living in Japan but also experts of nuclear power over the world don't rely on the information reported by the organization of nuclear power in Japan, Tepco, METI and NISA. If we will promote nuclear power system in Japan, even if we will just keep on working the nuclear power plants which are working now, we must make a radical reform of this organization in order to remove deep distrust.

The emergency response to lead Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant into staple conditions is now the first priority, and the discussion about future nuclear power policy in Japan is a low priority. Tepco and NISA don't seem to be able to forecast what will happen next in the nuclear power plant, and they are just making palliative responses, not systematic responses. Now that no one can access the final effects and risk of this accident. We can’t decide the future nuclear power policy without rational and scientific data.

Katsuma wrote "We should make a concrete and foreseeing discussion about the future power policy in Japan." but I doubt deeply if we can make a "concrete discussion" based on uncertain data now. Katsuma also wrote "If we can't rely on all of the risk management, we can't know who and what we should rely on.", but I also doubt if we, including she, can rely on the risk management by Tepco and NISA. At the least they don’t seem to be relied on in the international society. The countries, which have nuclear power system or will have it, will never decide their own nuclear power policies based on the risk assessment conducted by the current Japanese organization of nuclear power system.

After Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power station will be staple conditions to some extent, IAEA, not Japanese government, should lead the assessment of the effect and risk of this accident, and discuss about nuclear policy based on this assessment. Now we don’t have enough scientific information and any organization to review this accident.

This accident will heavily affect not only nuclear policies in Japan but also all over the world. We must not forget that we are required to give reliable information and risk assessment of this accident the international society. People, who are involved in nuclear power system of Japan, have duty to share information of effects, risks and lessons of this accident. But I’m anxious about the current organization, which is managing the nuclear power system in Japan, hide the truth about this accident.

I myself don't deny nuclear power system. But there is a general consensus that we can't trust the current organization with nuclear power system, considering the problem of transparency on these problems and the conflict with the communities where nuclear power plants are built.

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