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View Diary: Burners without Borders: Fukushima #53 (183 comments)

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  •  Interesting critique of nuclear power and politics (10+ / 0-)

    in the Mainichi Daily News. It focuses on a critique of the Japanese nuclear power industry by Katsuto Uchihashi, an influential economics reporter and freelance journalist. An excerpt:

    Uchihashi says that the "safety myth" of nuclear energy that the Japanese public has been fed for years has no basis. The pros and cons of nuclear energy have never been put up to nationwide public debate via the Diet or the media. The issue has been governed by an economic structure whose purpose is the relentless pursuit of profit, and the very parties who should be challenging questionable claims -- including academics and the media -- are knee deep in this web of interests and profit. It is this reality, Uchihashi declares, that was exposed by the March 11 disaster.

    The public is divided on whether nuclear power plants should be preserved and expanded, or scaled back and abolished. According to a Mainichi public opinion poll published in the April 18 morning issue, 40 percent of respondents said that the nation's dependence on nuclear power was unavoidable, while 41 percent said the number of nuclear power plants should cut back, and 13 percent said such plants should be abolished altogether. According to an Asahi Shimbun poll published on the same day, which asked respondents what they think should be done with nuclear power plants, 5 percent said that their numbers should increase, 51 percent said the current number should be maintained, 30 percent said they should be scaled back, and 11 percent said they should be eliminated entirely.

    Japan has been split in two, into a Japan whose people seek continued economic growth and prosperity grounded in nuclear dependence, and another Japan whose people are convinced of the need to depart from that model once and for all.

    It is the government's role to bridge that divide and coordinate diverging views, but it lacks the knowledge and wisdom needed for a debate that cuts to the crux of national policy....

    ....Uchihashi quotes a war historian's analysis of the reason for Japan's defeat in World War II.

    "It originated in the bad habit -- unique to the Japanese government -- of lending its ears only to favorable information while ignoring the bad, but it also exposed the flaws of the Japanese decision-making process in which people gather but do not debate, debate but do not decide ... It takes a long time to make a decision, but once one is reached, it is not easily changed. Japan went about war -- which by nature entails constantly changing circumstances -- in this way, the worst way possible, and found itself lagging behind time and time again, which ultimately led to its demise ..."

    The editorial sums up two intersecting problems with nuclear power in Japan. The number of supporters and opponents of nuclear power is about evenly split, making it difficult to come up with a consensus about how energy policy should or should not be changed. And the government and media does a bad job of mediating the conflicting interests involved, and that includes poor planning for disasters because the government and industry avoids thinking in terms of worst-case scenarios.
    •  It's the reality of the first quoted paragraph (8+ / 0-)

      that strikes me:

      Uchihashi says that the "safety myth" of nuclear energy that the Japanese public has been fed for years has no basis. The pros and cons of nuclear energy have never been put up to nationwide public debate via the Diet or the media. The issue has been governed by an economic structure whose purpose is the relentless pursuit of profit, and the very parties who should be challenging questionable claims -- including academics and the media -- are knee deep in this web of interests and profit. It is this reality, Uchihashi declares, that was exposed by the March 11 disaster.

      We share that problem in the US. It's the economic structure that makes those decisions.

      The utilities don't care if a proposed nuclear power station costs $8 billion or $22.5 billion. It isn't their money at risk.

      The banks are only concerned with their fees and return on investment. As long as there are government loan guaranties, it isn't their money at risk either.

      The politicians will go with the moneyed interest.

      That isn't the way capitalism is supposed to work. That isn't the way democracy is supposed to work. But there it is.

      Others have simply gotten old. I prefer to think I've been tempered by time.

      by Just Bob on Mon Apr 25, 2011 at 11:19:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  "bad habit -- unique to the Japanese government" (5+ / 0-)

      What sweet optimism . . .

    •  SOUND FAMILIAR? (7+ / 0-)

      The issue has been governed by an economic structure whose purpose is the relentless pursuit of profit, and the very parties who should be challenging questionable claims -- including academics and the media -- are knee deep in this web of interests and profit. It is this reality, Uchihashi declares, that was exposed by the March 11 disaster.

      God, what IS it going to take? WHAT?

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