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Tuesday
Jun052012

Former Japanese PM Kan: "the best way to make nuclear plants safe is not to rely on them, but rather to get rid of them”

Former Japanese Prime Minister, Naoto Kan, testifies against nuclear power before parliamentary panel investigating the Fukushima Daiichi catastropheIn an article entitled "Japan's Former Leader Condemns Nuclear Power," the New York Times reported on May 28th about the three-hour testimony of Japan's former Prime Minister, Naoto Kan, before a Japanese parliamentary investigation into the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe. Kan was serving during the first five months of the catastrophe, from 3/11/11 to August, when he resigned. Kan warned that the politically and economically powerful "nuclear village" in industry, government, and academia has shown "no remorse" for the catastrophe, as it pushes to re-start Japan's 50 remaining atomic reactors despite widespread grassroots opposition. Kan pointed out that “Gorbachev said in his memoirs that the Chernobyl accident exposed the sicknesses of the Soviet system. The Fukushima accident did the same for Japan.” Kan shared that he feared a worst case scenario cascade (or in the words of Kan's Chief Cabinet Secretary, now Minister of Trade, Industry, and Economy, Edano, "demonic chain reaction") of reactor meltdowns and high-level radioactive waste pool fires, which could have caused the “release into the air and sea many times, no, many dozens of times, many hundreds of times the radiation released by Chernobyl,” which would have forced the evacuation of 30 million people from Tokyo, leading to “a collapse of the nation’s ability to function.” Kan concluded “It is impossible to ensure safety sufficiently to prevent the risk of a national collapse. Experiencing the accident convinced me that the best way to make nuclear plants safe is not to rely on them, but rather to get rid of them.”

An AFP article, carried by Japan Today, reports that Kan compared the "nuclear village" in Japan to the imperial militarism that plunged Japan into World War II. Kan is quoted as saying “The nuclear accident was caused by a nuclear plant which operated as national policy...I believe the biggest portion of blame lies with the state...Before the war, the military came to have a grip on actual political power… Similarly, plant operator TEPCO and FEPC (Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan) held sway over the nation’s nuclear administration over the past 40 years...They ousted experts, politicians and bureaucrats critical of nuclear energy from the mainstream. Many others they sidelined so that they could maintain the status quo.”