[Marxism] A Revolt, the Quiet Japanese Way

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Mar 20 19:35:14 MDT 2012


A Revolt, the Quiet Japanese Way
Sunday, March 18, 2012 at 10:32AM

New revelations seeped out about the control Japan’s nuclear industry 
had over its regulators. In early 2006, five years before the apparently 
preventable meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, the Nuclear 
Safety Commission (NSC), an "independent" agency, began studying the 
enlargement of disaster-mitigation zones around nuclear power 
plants—from Japan’s standard 8-10 km to the International Atomic Energy 
Agency's standard of a 5-km “top priority zone” and a 30-km “priority zone.”

But the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA), which is under the 
Ministry of Economy, Trade & Industry (METI), demanded the study be 
shelved, claiming in emails that were just released that the expansion 
''could cause social unrest and increase popular anxiety.”

It worked. But if the expansion of the zones had been implemented, it 
could have prevented the chaos of the evacuations from the areas around 
the Fukushima plant—and the deaths that occurred during it.

Another revelation seeped out Saturday. In 2005, the IAEA proposed that 
emergency food regulations should be prepared for a zone with a radius 
of 300 km around nuclear power plants—a relatively large area on the 
narrow Japanese islands. But members of the NISA, the NSC, and the METI 
requested the removal of any reference to the “300 km.” They were 
worried about "negative publicity and other factors."

It worked again. However, the validity of the 300-km food regulation 
zone has been confirmed: "Radioactive cesium exceeded the safety 
standard in tea leaves from Shizuoka Prefecture, more than 300 km from 
the Fukushima plant," said Hideaki Tsuzuku, a director at the NSC, which 
is currently re-reviewing the guidelines.

Continuous revelations of how much Japan Inc. had conspired to 
accomplish its goals at the expense of the people have an impact: the 
people, known for their patience, have become impatient with the nuclear 
industry and its regulators—stirred up further by the daily drumbeat of 
the insidious spread of nuclear contamination:

- High levels of radioactive cesium were detected in condos built last 
July in Fukushima Prefecture. Turns out, the crushed stones in the 
concrete were radioactive. And, according to the METI, radioactive 
stones from the same quarry were used in over 80 other buildings, a 
street in front of a school, and an irrigation canal.

- ARCO, an independent French lab, tested children living 220 km from 
Fukushima Daiichi and found that 77% of them were contaminated with 
cesium 134 and cesium 137, probably from food.

- House dust collected from vacuum cleaners in the prefectures of Miyagi 
and Fukushima was contaminated with high levels of radioactive cesium. 
Of the sample, 22% exceeded 8000 Bq/kg—thus, radioactive waste that, 
under Japanese regulations, cannot be put in the garbage.

- Water contaminated with radioactive cesium is still leaking into the 
sea at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, researchers said, further 
contributing to the contamination of fish, though TEPCO, the bailed-out 
utility that owns the plant, true to itself, believed that that wasn’t 
the case.

And so people are opposing the almighty nuclear industry at a local 
level. Every time a nuclear power plant shuts down for scheduled 
maintenance, people in the area come out against restarting it. Thus, of 
Japan’s 54 reactors, only two are still generating electricity. And both 
are scheduled to be off line by April. With harsh consequences for 
industry and manufacturers.

And another setback for Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, the sixth 
ineffectual prime minister in six years. Like his predecessors, he is 
stumbling down a steep slope in approval ratings. When they drop into 
the low twenties, he will be axed, and a new sacrificial lamb will be 
stuffed into that slot. For the fiasco that is sending Noda to 
replacement hell while the economic and fiscal fundamentals are falling 
apart, read.... Unpopularity Contest at the Edge of the Abyss.

Under pressure from Japan Inc., Noda suggested that some of the reactors 
should be restarted. And the arm-twisting with the resisting public got 
a little tougher on Friday, when METI Minister Yukio Edano predicted 
that Japan would face a power shortage this summer of 9.3%. Last summer, 
power shortages were largely limited to the Tokyo area and northwestern 
Japan. This summer, they would hit Kansai, the huge and highly 
industrialized Osaka area, where shortfalls could peak at 20%.

Industry and households would have to cut back drastically—a Third-World 
problem that will send more manufacturers overseas. So Edano, in his 
efforts to overcome local resistance, promised that stress tests would 
be conducted at all reactors before they would be restarted. But it 
remains doubtful that the whitewash will re-inspire blind confidence in 
the nuclear industry.

But on the Japanese internet, there has been something ... lighter. And 
utterly cynical. It shows just how much trust the people have left in 
TEPCO and the government. Read:  Nuclear Contamination As Seen By 
Japanese Humor (mostly pics).

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