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Nuclear Energy Governance after Fukushima: Mitsuhei Murata, Former Japanese Ambassador to Switzerland
Mitsuhei Murata l Speech at Hosei University, on October 5, 2011
Former Japanese Ambassador to Switzerland
Executive Director, the Japan Society for Global System and Ethics
1. Historic role to be played by Japan
As an inhabitant in Japan and in Tokyo, being increasingly menaced by the spreading radioactive contamination resulting from the Fukushima nuclear disaster, I feel qualified to voice the strongest condemnation against the use of nuclear energy, be it civil or military. It has been definitely confirmed that nuclear energy is beyond human control. The air, the land and the sea continue to be polluted. Even food such as fish, beef, mushrooms and others have been found contaminated, which has shocked all Japan. Slow death, alas , awaits so many innocent children and citizens like in Chernobyl.
It is now the responsibility and the duty of Japan to contribute to the realization of denuclearization, both military and civil ,as the only country to have grasped the whole picture of nuclear energy that can be defined as the most immoral, being the seeds of unbearable disasters and catastrophe beyond imagination.
The 4 nuclear reactors out of control are teaching us the lesson that the usage of nuclear energy with its fatal effects due to its invisible radioactivity and radiation is totally incompatible with ethics.
The innocent population is suddenly placed in a situation out of human control by an accident and is obliged to accept all sorts of consequences. Hundreds of thousands of residents in Fukushima forced to seek refuge far away from home are placed on the brink of despair.
The Japanese population, the first victim of the military use of atomic energy is now going through a huge ordeal resulting from its civil use. It is the will of good willing Japanese people to see to it that Japan will help the world to change course in the nuclear field to avoid further tragedies. It is a historic role to be played by Japan.
2.The “nuclear village” or nuclear dictatorship
From this point of view, I am deeply disappointed by the persistence of the “nuclear dictatorship” in spite of the overwhelming support of the public for ceasing the dependence on nuclear energy. This is made possible by minimizing the gravity of the consequences of the accident, in particular, the underground situation of the nuclear plant, where melted through fuel rods are surmised to be leaking.
The possibility of hydrogen or steam explosions that could make even Tokyo uninhabitable cannot be excluded. It can be said that the world faces the greatest danger ever experienced by humanity. It could become the first step toward the ultimate catastrophe of the whole world. Suffice it to say that radioactive waste equivalent to one million Hiroshima atomic bombs are to be accumulated in the Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant. We cannot deny that the existing 54 nuclear reactors in Japan are all seeds of catastrophes
After the Fukushima accident, promoting nuclear energy has undeniably lost the status of national policy. It is required consequently to reform the existing system, including the establishment of the independent nuclear security agency and the strengthened surveillance of the expenditures of the electric companies that have manipulated leaders in all fields, including government officials, politicians, businessmen, scholars, judges , and the mass media. The nuclear dictatorship in Japan was thus created.
Seven years ago, I sent out a message in all directions, including top political leaders, warning that electric companies would be deciding the fate of Japan. It enumerated concrete cases reflecting the lack of ethics and responsibility like careless management and supervision, false reports, arbitrary decisions like extending by 20 years the life of a reactor.
If the nuclear dictatorship is allowed to survive, as is at present, electric companies will be deciding the fate of the world.
3. Proposals for true denuclearization
In 2005, I submitted to the InterAction Council Meeting held
in the United States a paper entitled “A plea for a total ban on the use, be it military or civilian, of nuclear energy” The Fukushima accident has strengthened my conviction expressed in the paper.
In the paper, I made the following proposals.
1.The I.A.E.A .that is given an incompatible mission of preventing nuclear proliferation and promoting nuclear power generation should be reformed.
2.National nuclear commissions mandated to promote nuclear plants should also be reformed.
3.Many organizations and groups campaigning for the abolition of nuclear weapons, including the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki could be advised to revitalize the movement by encompassing the abolition of the civilian use of nuclear energy.
4.Those involved in the peaceful use of nuclear energy are often criticized that they have not sufficiently disclosed the dangers of nuclear energy such as lasting damages of radioactivity and radiation leakage. They are requested to respond and fulfil their accountability
.5. International control over the safety of existing nuclear plants must be strengthened. Sovereignty can no longer serve as a pretext for rejecting interventions by other countries, since a fatal accident in one country could have unimaginable consequences for many others.
The problem of nuclear energy boils down to the question of ethics and responsibility.
I concluded the paper by the following remarks.
“Is it ethical to export nuclear installations to other countries fully aware that they are dangerous?
Is it ethical for decision makers to import such installations, fully aware of the dangers?
Is it not a lack of the sense of responsibility to allow the continued functioning of more than 430 nuclear reactors without knowing how to dispose of accumulating nuclear waste or how to suppress an eventual accident that requires the mobilization of hundreds of thousands of people?
To do nothing to eliminate the seeds of such catastrophes surely reflects a lack of the sense of justice.
The foregoing statement seems to justify the need for the denuclearisation of the globe, both military and civilian, which I have long been advocating.
We are faced with two choices. The first is to start the denuclearisation of the globe as a preventive measure. The second is to be eventually forced to do so by a catastrophic disaster.”
Regrettably, this is what has happened
4. The lessons of Fukushima
(1) The dawning of a new civilization
The Japan Society for Global System and Ethics, of which I am executive director, issued an urgent appeal based on the following position last April.
The recent earthquakes and tsunami that led to the tragedy of Fukushima nuclear disaster, are nothing but warnings of Mother Earth that mankind faces a change of way of life not only in Japan, but the entire world.
The present civilization of power based on paternal culture needs to be replaced by a civilization of harmony based maternal culture. Paternal culture whose characteristics are competition and confrontation needs to be balanced with maternal culture whose characteristics are harmony and cooperation.
The deeply-rooted cause of the crisis confronting mankind is the universally prevalent lack of ethics. It is against fundamental ethics to abuse and exhaust natural resources that belong to future generations and leave behind permanently poisonous waste and enormous financial debts.
Prompted by such circumstances, this Society proposes to the International Community to hold a United Nations Ethics Summit as early as possible and to create an “International Day for Global Ethics" that will enable all nations, year by year, to reflect on the importance of ethics.
This appeal has been translated into 9 languages. The support for it is fortunately rapidly expanding.
(2)Impact on neighboring regions and countries
The Fukushima nuclear accident has shown that an accident of one nuclear accident can affect the whole world.
The Town Council of Makinohara Town,10 kilometers away from the Hamaoka Nuclear plant has passed a resolution demanding the permanent ceasing of the operations of the Hamaoka reactors.
This “Makinohara phenomenon” is of great significance and it is expected to be followed suit not only in Japan, but world wide.
The day before yesterday, the city of Yaezu followed suit.
It makes it possible to conceive a new global movement for true denuclearization in which the countries that have opted for phasing out nuclear energy are expected to play a leading role.
Even countries not possessing nuclear reactors will participate in this lofty endeavour.
(3)Increased dangers of nuclear terrorism
I read with great interest Professor Tilman Ruff's article (Japan Times, Sep.21,2011. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/eo20110921a2.html) which has made the vulnerability of nuclear powers stand out in relief in relation to nuclear terrorism. The Fukushima disaster has shown that power failure and water failure in a nuclear plant can cause catastrophes. It has brought into focus the dangers of spent fuel pools that are not well protected.
Motivations for real denuclearization are gaining weight. The consequences of China constructing hundreds of nuclear reactors can easily be imagined. Yellow sands flying from China could be lethal in the worst case.
The will of heavens and the earth (my translation of Providence) that protects humanity and the planet earth, although often resorting to cruel warnings, will support the vision of true denuclearization.
A maternal civilization based on ethics and solidarity is indispensable for denuclearization. A UN Ethics Summit is the first concrete step toward this civilization, hence toward denuclearization. It is therefore indispensable for World Peace.
Japan has the duty and the responsibility to let the entire world know the whole picture of the impending danger mankind has never known. The ultimate catastrophe must be averted at all costs.