Observatory on the nuclear crisis, July 2012

The Fukushima nuclear accident is a “man-made in Japan” disaster…

The National Diet of Japan Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission. Source: NAIIC.

A Diet investigative panel’s (NAIIC) report on the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, which concluded that it was a “man-made” disaster. Kiyoshi Kurokawa, chairman of the investigation commission, said Fukushima is a “made in Japan” disaster.

Also the government-appointed Investigation Committee on the Accident at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Stations (ICANPS) issued its final report, where pointed to a lack of a “safety culture” at both Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO, the Fukushima Daiichi operator) and the central government and delivered a damning assessment of the regulators and the station’s operator.

Featured Analysis Timeline:

  • Learning Fukushima’s lessons

    Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, March 18, 2011. Source: Digital Globe.

    A series of startling investigative reports into the Fukushima disaster have made it clear the crisis was both human-made and could have been avoided.
    The question is, will the Japanese government and the wider world take heed?

    Justin McKeating, Learning Fukushima’s lessons. Greenpeace, July 27, 2012.

  • In Fukushima, Surreal Serenity
    The traditional inn nestled amid the mountainous countryside offered all the luxurious comforts for which these old-style hotels are famous. An elegant and eye-pleasing eight-course dinner was served in our room. The outdoor hot-spring bath had a view of lush foliage covering a steep cliff, lit up to highlight the diverse shades of green. A soothing sound emanated from a river flowing below. I could have been anywhere in Japan enjoying the typically understated royal treatment.
    Only this time, when I checked out, instead of a parting gift of a box of local confectionaries or a hand towel with the hotel’s name on it, the owner handed me a plastic bag containing a vinyl raincoat, cotton gloves and a gauze mask. “Just in case you need it,” he said. “Sometimes when it rains, the numbers are high.” He was referring to measurements of radiation.

    Kumiko Makihara, In Fukushima, Surreal Serenity. The New York Times, July 23, 2012.

  • ASAHI SURVEY: Mothers who evacuated with children face difficulties
    Mothers who evacuated with their children from Fukushima Prefecture following the nuclear accident at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant are facing economical and emotional hardships, a new Asahi Shimbun survey showed.
    The Asahi Shimbun, ASAHI SURVEY: Mothers who evacuated with children face difficulties. Asahi Japan Watch, July 23, 2012.

  • UPDATE: Government panel blasts lack of ‘safety culture’ in nuclear accident
    The government panel looking into last year’s accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant pointed to a lack of a “safety culture” at both Tokyo Electric Power Co. and the central government.
    The Investigation Committee on the Accident at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Stations issued its final report July 23.

    The Asahi Shimbun, UPDATE: Government panel blasts lack of ‘safety culture’ in nuclear accident. Asahi Japan Watch, July 23, 2012.

  • Fukushima probe panel urges new disaster prevention steps, mindset
    A government-appointed inquiry into Japan’s Fukushima nuclear crisis raised doubts on July 23 about whether other atomic plants were prepared for massive disasters despite new safety rules, and delivered a damning assessment of the regulators and the station’s operator.
    Reuters, Fukushima probe panel urges new disaster prevention steps, mindset. Asahi Japan Watch, July 23, 2012.

  • Western media: Don’t blame Fukushima on ‘culture’
    British and US media are not buying the Diet’s investigation commission’s report that Japanese culture was largely to blame for last year’s nuclear disaster.
    Daisuke Nakai, Western media: Don’t blame Fukushima on ‘culture’. Asahi Japan Watch, July 12, 2012.

  • Oe: It’s time for Japanese to change their mentality
    Nobel laureate Kenzaburo Oe emphasized that the Fukushima nuclear disaster marks a turning point in Japan’s postwar democracy and supported the Diet special commission’s assertion that the accident was “made in Japan.”
    “I agree with (Kiyoshi) Kurokawa that it requires us to thoroughly think about Japanese mentality to understand what happened at the Fukushima plant,” Oe said at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo on July 12.

    Hiroshi Matsubara, Oe: It’s time for Japanese to change their mentality. Asahi Japan Watch, July 12, 2012.

  • Is the root cause of the Fukushima disaster really “Made in Japan?”
    A report of a Japanese parliamentary panel concluded that the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster was rooted in government-industry “collusion” and thus was “man-made” is mirrored throughout the world. The “regulatory capture” cited by the panel is the pattern among nuclear agencies right up to the International Atomic Energy Agency. The “wider structural problems” are far wider than Japan—they are global.
    Karl Grossman. Enformable, July 11, 2012.

  • Stop blaming Fukushima on Japan’s culture
    More than a year has passed since tragedy struck the Tohoku region of Japan. A huge earthquake and tsunami left 20,000 people dead and missing, hundreds of thousands homeless, and resulted in a nuclear accident at Fukushima that ranks with Chernobyl among the worst ever.
    The tragedy cried out for a rapid policy response: the government failed to meet this challenge. The authorities’ incompetence is chronicled in the report of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Commission released this month. Its sobering conclusion is that this was not a natural disaster but “a profoundly manmade disaster – that could and should have been foreseen and prevented. Its effects could have been mitigated by a more effective human response.”

    Gerald Curtis, Stop blaming Fukushima on Japan’s culture. The Financial Times, July 10, 2012.

  • Japan’s Unsatisfying Nuclear Report
    By Japanese standards, the report released Thursday by the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission could be considered remarkable.
    Editorial, Japan’s Unsatisfying Nuclear Report. Blomberg, July 9, 2012.

  • A Disaster Made in Japan
    It’s fitting that Japan (NKY) chose a medical doctor to diagnose what happened on 3/11, the shorthand used to describe last year’s earthquake and cataclysmic tsunami.
    William Pesek, A Disaster Made in Japan. Blomberg, July 9, 2012.

  • Beware post-crisis ‘Made in Japan’ labels
    Kiyoshi Kurokawa, chairman of a major investigation into the failure of the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi atomic plant, believes that the fundamental causes of the crisis lie in shortcomings of Japanese culture. Is he right?
    The answer is of global importance. The reactor meltdowns in Fukushima last March marked the world’s worst nuclear crisis in a quarter of a century. Understanding why Daiichi proved so vulnerable could be vital to preventing future accidents at atomic plants everywhere.

    Mure Dickie, Beware post-crisis ‘Made in Japan’ labels. The Financial Times, July 8, 2012.

  • As Japan Says Fukushima Disaster “Man-Made” & “Preventable,” Fears Grow for Nuclear Plants Worldwide
    A Japanese parliamentary inquiry has concluded last year’s nuclear meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was “a profoundly man-made disaster — that could and should have been foreseen and prevented.”
    Guest: Arnie Gundersen. Democracy Now, July 6, 2012.

  • The emerging power of Japan’s ‘Hydrangea’ revolution
    Like the flower it has been named after, a budding civil movement is emerging and taking root in Japan to protest against the government’s decision to restart the Ohi nuclear plant.
    Junichi Sato, The emerging power of Japan’s ‘Hydrangea’ revolution. Greenpeace, July 6, 2012.

  • Japanese citizens take their nuclear fight to court
    With the first nuclear reactor to be restarted in Japan after the 2011 Fukushima disaster to begin producing electricity soon, it’s clear the country’s government has decided to step back into the dangerous past rather than race into a sustainable future of renewable energy.
    Justin McKeating, Japanese citizens take their nuclear fight to court. Greenpeace, July 6, 2012.

  • The Fukushima report hides behind the cultural curtain
    By claiming the disaster was ‘made in Japan’, an official report reinforces, yet does not explain, unhelpful stereotypes.
    Naoko Shimazu, The Fukushima report hides behind the cultural curtain. The Guardian, July 6, 2012.

  • Fukushima nuclear accident NAIIC Report
    Fukushima nuclear accident, a Japanese parliamentary committee report English-language summary.
    The Official Report of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (pdf). NAIIC, July 5, 2012.

  • Google urges governments to share disaster data
    Google on Monday urged governments to get better at sharing information to allow citizens and first responders to make better use of the Internet during natural disasters.
    AFP, Google urges governments to share disaster data. FoxNews, July 3, 2012.

  • Related pages:
    See also the analysis and news archive for 2012 and 2011.



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    About Backyard World

    Backyard World is an art and information architecture project on the Fukushima crisis. The project was started March 17, 2011.
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