By Mark Halper
Posting in Energy
Japanese parliamentary report gives damning assessment of country's obedient culture, blaming it for Fukushima nuclear meltdown caused by deep rooted business and government failings.
A Japanese parliamentary committee has blamed last year's meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant on a catalogue of manmade errors, including a culturally ingrained Japanese unwillingness to question authority.
While the immediate trigger of the nuclear disaster was the cataclysmic earthquake and tsunami that knocked out generators that powered cooling systems, it was a litany of shortcomings in Japanese business and government that set up the possibility - and the subsequent inadequate handling - in the first place, the committee concludes.
In a damning report by the Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission, excerpts of which the BBC posts on its website, chairman Kiyoshi Kurokawa writes of the accident,
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.
Kurokawa's executive summary cites gross deficiencies among nuclear regulators and at the utility that operated the plant, TEPCO. He says that the nuclear accident,
Cannot be regarded as a natural disaster. It was a profoundly manmade disaster - that could and should have been foreseen and prevented...
Our report catalogues a multitude of errors and wilful negligence that left the Fukushima plant unprepared for the events of March 11. And it examines serious deficiencies in the response to the accident by Tepco, regulators and the government.
For all the extensive detail it provides, what this report cannot fully convey - especially to a global audience - is the mindset that supported the negligence behind this disaster. What must be admitted - very painfully - is that this was a disaster "Made in Japan."
The report goes on to cite "collusion and lack of governance," noting,
[All parties] failed to correctly develop the most basic safety requirements - such as assessing the probability of damage, preparing for containing collateral damage from such a disaster, and developing evacuation plans for the public in the case of a serious radiation release.
The report also singles out in its own words: "organizational problems within TEPCO; emergency repsonse issues; evacuation issues; continuing public health and welfare issues; regulator failures; operator failures; (and) shortcomings in laws and regulations."
It says there are "no cosmetic solutions," and warns that, "Unless these root causes are resolved, preventive measures against future similar accidents will never be complete."
The report comes as Japan restarts two nuclear reactors, after it shut down all of its 54 reactors following the accident. Prior to the events at Fukushima, nuclear power had provided about 30 percent of Japan's electricity.
More Japanese power on SmartPlanet:
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- Japanese utility mulls thorium
- Nuclear down, CO2 up in Japan, Germany
- Fukushima’s lesson: ‘Alternative’ nuclear, not ‘no’ nuclear
- Floating wind farm on Fukushima’s horizon
- What's keeping the lights on in Tokyo?
- How to eliminate Japan's nuclear reactors: LED light bulbs
Click here for a collection of SmartPlanet stories on alternative nuclear technology, including thorium, fusion, modular and fast neutron reactors.
Jul 4, 2012
According to the best estimates there will be 20 cancers over the next 40 years due to radiation from Fukushima ... http://blogs.nature.com/news/2012/05/world-health-organization-weighs-in-on-fukushima.html Bowel cancer in Japan was about 20,000 in 1975. Allowing for population growth it should be about 23,000 now. But it has soared to over 100,000. Why? Japans change of diet. In particular red and processed meat which the 150+ expert authors of the World Cancer Research Funds 2007 report says cause bowel cancer. So which is more dangerous, something which causes 20 cancers in 40 years or something which adds 3.2 million extra cancers over 40 years. The evacuation was cruel and totally out of proportion to the miniscule risk. Compared with red and processed meat, tobacco and alcohol, radiation is pretty much a wimp in the cancer stakes. If you consider how many lives have been saved by Japan having 30% of its power coming from clean energy instead of filthy dirty carcinogenic coal fired power stations then the cost benefit ratio is also clear. P.S. Japanese bowel cancer rate increase data is from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17059355 But my 100,000 figure above comes from 2008 globocan data.