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VOX POPULI: Trickery ensures nobody gets blamed if nuclear restart goes wrong

The Bay of Pigs Invasion of April 1961, undertaken by the United States to overthrow the Fidel Castro regime in Cuba, ended in dismal failure. It left a stain on the administration of President John F. Kennedy, which was still only in its third month.

Kennedy is said to have been reluctant to go ahead with this campaign. But he accepted responsibility for the failure and said at a news conference, “Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan.”

This famous Kennedy quote drips with sarcasm. When something goes right, everyone wants to claim credit. But when something goes wrong, nobody comes forward to assume responsibility.

I am probably not the only person who was reminded of this quote by the appalling irresponsibility of the people involved in the new National Stadium project.

And there is also the matter of the reactivation of the No. 1 reactor at the Sendai nuclear power plant operated by Kyushu Electric Power Co. In taking the first step back to nuclear power generation, the parties concerned left their own responsibilities completely vague, perhaps in order to dodge criticism from people opposed to nuclear power generation, or as a precaution just in case something goes wrong later.

Kyushu Electric Power is primarily responsible for restarting the reactor, but it was the government that gave the green light.

The government stresses that Japan has “the most stringent safety requirements (for nuclear reactor operation) in the world.” But the Nuclear Regulation Authority, the nation’s nuclear watchdog, says that “accidents can happen even if the safety requirements are met,” and that it withholds “judgment on whether reactors should be restarted or not.”

There are just too many questions that remain unanswered.

In a collusive relationship, it is easy for everyone to practice obfuscation to escape responsibility. The Fukushima disaster of March 2011 was evidence of the government’s failed energy policy. It also destroyed the “safety myth” of nuclear power generation. The grave responsibility of the political, bureaucratic and academic communities should have been thoroughly scrutinized then, but the matter was never really pursued.

As a result, many of the helpless and innocent residents who had to leave their hometowns are still living in “exile” today.

After one year and 11 months of zero nuclear power generation nationwide, electricity generated by nuclear energy will start reaching consumers again Aug. 14. Electricity is electricity, no matter what the source. Where it comes from is irrelevant so long as it delivers cool air from the air-conditioning unit and turns lights on.

But if we unthinkingly go back to a society where nuclear power generation is simply taken for granted, we would be wasting the bitter lessons we learned from the Fukushima disaster.

Source: Asahi Shimbun

August 14, 2015 - Posted by | Japan | ,

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