A Japanese Parliament report says that the government’s claims about Fukushima are a complete lie. A Japanese government inquiry has come to the conclusion that the nuclear accident at Fukushima was a preventable disaster rooted in government-industry collusion and the worst conformist conventions of Japanese culture. But if Fukushima radiation is heading for the West Coast of the US, that won’t be much comfort to us.
The existence of an independent investigating commission–instead of the usual sort of self-examination carried out by the Japanese bureaucracy–is something new for that country, and the Japanese may have followed the American model because some of the Fukushima debris is coming our way. In the July 5th edition of the New York Times, Hiroko Tabuchi quotes the commission chairman Kiyoshi Kurokawa as saying, "It was a profoundly man-made disaster–that could and should have been foreseen and prevented. And its effects could have been mitigated by a more effective human response."
The main conclusion was that the power plant should have immediately shut down when it realized its cooling systems were damaged in the March 11, 2011 quake, instead of waiting for the ensuing tsunami to make things worse. Tabuchi quotes Kurokawa as saying, "What must be admitted, very painfully, is that this was a disaster ‘Made in Japan.’ Its fundamental causes are to be found in the ingrained conventions of Japanese culture: our reflexive obedience; our reluctance to question authority; our devotion to ‘sticking with the program,’ our groupism, and our insularity."
However, he quotes Kurokawa as saying that criminal prosecution "is a matter for others to pursue. Japan is a major fish-eating country, and the Fukushima meltdown released enormous amounts of radiation into the Pacific, where cesium levels near the Fukushima coast rose to 45 million times pre-accident levels. In June, 56% percent of Japanese fish catches tested by the Japanese government were contaminated with the radioactive isotopes cesium-137 and -134. Almost 10% of the fish caught exceeded Japan’s official ceiling for cesium. In recent years, Japan has been a major exporter of fish to Canada.
In the July 19th edition of the "Georgia Straight," Alex Roslin quotes Canadian researcher Erica Frank as saying, "I think it’s important to ask purveyors of Pacific food where it comes from."
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