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Report: Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Was Man-Made
Krista Mahr, Time Magazine
An independent parliamentary committee issued a report on Thursday on last year’s crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, concluding that the disaster was “man-made” and the result of “collusion” between Japan’s regulatory bodies and Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the operator of the facility and Japan’s largest utility. Together, the report reads, “they effectively betrayed the nation’s right to be safe from nuclear accidents.”
Link to Executive Summary
(5 July 2012)
Japan’s Unsatisfying Nuclear Report
…Where the report falls seriously short, however, is the aspect that has drawn the most approving attention: its conclusion that the near-cataclysm at Fukushima was, at bottom, a cultural mishap. It is both a copout and a cliche to fall back on Japan’s “groupism” and say that “had other Japanese been in the shoes of those who bear responsibility for this accident, the result may well have been the same.” Japan is hardly the only country where safety regulations are poorly enforced and old-boy networks protect industry interests. Witness the 2006 Sago mine explosion in the U.S., where hundreds of earlier safety violations brought only low fines, and the revolving door between the coal mining industry and the U.S. Department of Interior was in full swing.
Moreover, notwithstanding the commission’s lament about the Japanese “reluctance to question authority,” many citizens did repeatedly express their concerns about the safety of Tepco’s Fukushima reactors, including legislators from Japan’s Communist Party. Their warnings were brushed aside by those in power. Let’s hope that the otherwise instructive findings and recommendations of this commission are not.
(8 July 2012)
Reactor restarts, but Japan’s energy policy in flux
Linda Sieg, Reuters
Buffeted by industry worries about high electricity costs on one side and public safety fears about nuclear power on the other, Japan’s leaders are still struggling to craft a coherent energy policy more than a year after the Fukushima disaster.
Critics say Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, whose top priority is raising the sales tax to curb bulging public debt, is caving in to Japan’s “nuclear village” – a powerful nexus of utilities, bureaucrats and businesses – by restarting the first of Japan’s 50 reactors to come back on line since the crisis.
Kansai Electric Power Co’s No. 3 unit at its Ohi plant, in western Japan, will resume supplying power to the grid as early as Thursday, and its No. 4 unit will also restart this month, as the government seeks to avoid a summer power crunch…
(4 July 2012)
Shadowlands – photographs & stories from Fukushima
Robert Knoth and Antoinette de Jong, Greenpeace
Robert Knoth and Antoinette de Jong visited the Fukushima region with Greenpeace in the autumn of 2011 to bear witness to the effects wrought on the region by the nuclear fallout from the triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.