Japanese Say ‘No’ to Nuclear

USA Today reports that as many as 200,000 Japanese rallied against re-starting more nuclear power plants.

Led by Nobel-winning novelist Kenzaburo Oe, pop star Ryuichi Sakamoto and visual artist Yoshitomo Nara, the protesters expressed outrage over a report that blamed the Fukushima disaster on Japan’s culture of “reflexive obedience” and held no individuals responsible.

Japanese officials say that the needs of Japan’s economy require bringing more nuclear plants back online. Protesters want a phase-out of nuclear power. They also want accountability for the human role in the Fukushima disaster…

The demonstrators also said they were offended by a parliamentary investigation that blamed Japanese culture for the Fukushima disaster.

The report, released earlier this month, said, “Its fundamental causes are to be found in the ingrained conventions of Japanese culture — our reflexive obedience, our reluctance to question authority, our devotion to ‘sticking with the program,’ our groupism and our insularity.”

Midori Tanaka, a schoolteacher marching at the park, said the right people should face up to their mistakes.

“Things can never change if we blame culture. We need to get to the bottom of this,” she said.

Oe said blaming culture was a cop-out, adding that individuals — including the president of Tokyo Electric Power Co., the utility that operates Fukushima Dai-ichi — should be held responsible.

Imagine if it were harder for individuals to hide behind corporations. Is Japanese culture the problem, or is it the undermining of democracy by big money?

In the days after the tsunami, there was no immediate risk to the established powers. The Japanese people came together for rescue and relief. Now with the passing of time, the Japanese people are demanding to know why corruption and negligence went so far without people being named and held accountable.

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3 responses

  1. Donald Wolberg | Reply

    Let’s see, Japan has a population of about 128,000,000, so if 200,000 people show up somewhere, and this number seems to be rather inflated, something less that 2 tenths of one percent protested. If the number is actually 100,000, as seems reasonable from reports, that number is one tenth of one percent. Japan is a nation blessed with great physical beauty, but unfortunately has almost no natural resources that can be used to generate electricity. Japan also has a rigorous climate with more cloudy days than not, and a rugged terrain and wind pattern that limits large scale wind energy. Geothermal resources are present but localized. This energy deficit is coupled with the fact that Japan is an industrial nation requiring very large amounts of reliable, 24/7 on demand electricity and a highly developed consumer base, These facts do not leave many options for the Japanese, and it was a need for energy that was one of the causes of Japan’s aggressions in Asia that led to World War II. A nation is responsible to its own population first and economic suicide is not a popular platform for survival. Japan previously imported huge quantities of coal, even LNG, and oil. It still needs the oil. The coal has been replaced by nuclear power. Nuclear power provides the required power a modern, energy deficient nation needs. Of course there are issues with any use of anything. However, camp fires will not provide the answer for the needs of a modern industrial society–besides, the trees are better left where they grow.

  2. I don’t know the solution to Japan’s energy needs but I know it is not easy. But this article is about accountability for errors and it seems blaming it on the culture is a cop-out just as it would be for someone caught on medicaid or welfare fraud to avoid consequences by blaming it on the culture (of greed.) I had thought Japanese executives traditionally commit suicide when they foul up big time, but it sounds they have become westernized and avoid responibility like our bankers, gulf oil regulators etc etc.

  3. Part of the problem with Fukushima and many nuclear plants is that they didn’t do any due diligence. For example, when I worked for the RI SOS we needed redundant power. I went out and got data on the flood patterns of the West River, the costs, benefits and failure modes of diesel, natural gas, etc. It’s why the generator there is on an 18″ platform. If the water comes up it is a rare event for it to rise more than that.

    Of course it wouldn’t survive a tsunami – and we did have serious data redundancy when it came to voter data and other data. We did a monthly offsite disk too.

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