[Marxism] A Revolt, the Quiet Japanese Way
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
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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