Fukushima disaster was 'profoundly man-made'
Official report says Japan's culture of obedience created nuclear crisis
Friday 06 July 2012
The crisis at Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant last year was a "profoundly man-made disaster" that "could and should have been foreseen and prevented", an independent parliamentary commission concluded yesterday in a damning report.
The commission said the incident was brought on by "collusion" between the government, the regulators, and the plant's operators, and blamed the "ingrained conventions of Japanese culture" for the plant's failure after an earthquake and tsunami struck Japan's north-east coast on 11 March, 2011.
The report also raised doubts over the safety of Japan's nuclear plants as a whole by suggesting the Fukushima facility was damaged by the 9.0 magnitude earthquake. The plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), has insisted that the plant was not damaged by the quake, only by the tsunami that followed it – a rare occurrence that was unforeseen by contingency planners, it said.
If true, the report's findings are a concern for the earthquake-prone nation, which last week restarted its first nuclear facility since all plants were shut down after the disaster.
"The direct causes of the accident were all foreseeable prior to March 11, 2011," the report says. It described the incident as, "the result of collusion between the government, the regulators and Tepco".
More than 70,000 people were evacuated from the area around the Fukushima plant after power losses caused meltdowns in three of the six reactors. Thousands of residents continue to live in temporary housing and radiation readings are given on the news each day as fears remain over the spread of radiation.
In a striking admission, the report also highlighted Japan's cultural deference to authority as a key factor in the Fukushima crisis. This point is underlined by the independent commission itself, which is the first of its kind to question Japan's constitutional government.
"For all the extensive detail it provides, what this report cannot fully convey – especially to a global audience – is the mindset that supported the negligence behind this disaster," writes Kiyoshi Kurokawa, the commission's chairman.
"What must be admitted – very painfully – is 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."
Official reliance on nuclear power allowed the industry to become "an unstoppable force, immune to scrutiny", Mr Kurokawa added.
- 1 Woman 'suffocates newborn baby in plastic bag and puts it in her desk minutes after giving birth'
- 2 I've been called an abusive and dangerous parent, when all I did was listen to my transgender child
- 3 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 4 Teaching profession headed for crisis as numbers continue to drop and working lives become 'unbearable'
- 5 Chinese student carries disabled friend to school every day for three years
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove
£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...
£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...
£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...
£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...