If George W. Bush stood up before Congress and told the American people that the petroleum industry were run by secret Stalinists whose goal was to destroy America and the world, it would be less surprising than to have former Prime Minister Naoto Kan say that Japan is ruled by a nuclear industry dictatorship, comparing them to the men who bombed Pearl Harbor and led the nation into a war that left the nation in ruins. Japanese leaders rarely speak so bluntly.
Just as interesting is the apparent treatment of the story by the world media. The Voice of America blog, to my surprise, gave the fullest reporting of the comments. Most media outlets gave truncated versions. Der Spiegel gave some excellent contextual reporting, exposing the breadth of corruption through academia, the press, and the Parliament, but has not yet mentioned Kan's testimony.
(crossposted from Mercury Rising)
The former Prime Minister of Japan, Naoto Kan, has given striking testimony to Parliament, in which he accepted blame for his own poor response during the Fukushima meltdown, but also attempted to obtain some degree of absolution because of the degree of corruption of the nuclear industry. He also urged Parliament to abandon nuclear power. To my surprise, Voice of America had some of the best coverage, reporting Kan saying:
“TEPCO and the Electric Power Companies of Japan have dominated the nuclear power industry for the last 40 years. Through this nuclear clique and the rules they created, they expelled and isolated industry experts, politicians and bureaucrats who were critical, while the rest just looked on because of self-protection and an attitude of peace-at-any-cost. I'm saying this because I feel partly responsible.”Comparing the nuclear industry to the Imperial Japanese military is to call that industry a fascist state.
“This nuclear clique, which has been created by the vested interest, is similar to the former Imperial Japanese military. We have to totally destroy and eradicate the organizational structure of the vested interests and (the) influence it has on the public. I think this should be the first step in reforming the nuclear industry.”
Contrast this with Martin Fackler of The New York Times. This version excludes any reference to the Japanese Empire, substituting a milder reference to "the sickness of the system" with a comparison to Chernobyl and Soviet Communism. There are jabs and digs at Kan in the article that look like an attempt to discredit him. Mainichi Shimbun goes further and excises any reference to the corruption of the industry. The Washington Post (i.e., AP) is possibly even less useful. The Straits Times has a short but pointed piece that makes the connection between the nuclear industry and the fascists. The Guardian's coverage is strangely muted. The Independent is missing in action. Ditto, FT. Reuters, useless. The Age, ditto. Yomiuri, ditto. Cordula Meyer of Der Spiegel has excellent background, but hasn't commented on Kan's testimony:
In Japan, the term "The Atomic Village" refers to an isolated elite that has formed around the country's nuclear complex. ...It's as if Austrian writer Robert Jungk's horrific vision of the "nuclear state" had become reality....Even many media organizations, as recipients of generous payments for the electricity industry, are part of the cartel...."Our country was literally brainwashed," says Taro Kono, a member of the lower house of the Japanese Diet for the conservative LDP. "Atomic energy is a cult in Japan." ...Many scientists, especially at the University of Tokyo, are partial to TEPCO. The company contributes millions to the university and supports many associations, think tanks and commissions....Meanwhile, the Japanese government has begun asking Internet providers to remove "false reports" about Fukushima from the web...In Japan, the insiders who talked about the abuses at TEPCO were intimidated, as were journalists who reported on these abuses....Of course, Germany is on a path to become nuclear free, so the nuclear industry doesn't have much sway there. Think that the "Atomic Village" might actually be an international metropolis?
This is a major story. Japanese, at least Japanese in positions of leadership, simply do not use such direct language except in extremis. It would be as big as if George W. Bush got up in front of Congress and said that the petroleum industry, from academia to the engineering firms that build the plants to their boosters in Congress were secret Stalinists, destroying America from within.
And the biggest story is who is not covering it.
This is an excellent case history in propaganda. A propaganda system does not completely squelch stories. It is careful to tell only lies that are too big or unverifiable to be detected. Propaganda systems tell a portion of the truth, in such a way as to distort the meaning. And if one can find a portion of the information system where what they are covering up differs from what the rest of the system is covering up--like Der Spiegel's reporting on an industry that has no political power in Germany--then occasionally the truth leaks out.