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Meanwhile "the agonies of Fukushima continue"


June 19, 2013


VOX POPULI: Shameful selective memory regarding nuclear power issue



A farmer who grew organic vegetables in Sukagawa, Fukushima Prefecture, hanged himself just 13 days after the onset of the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

The man left behind more than 7,500 heads of cabbage that he painstakingly grew. The nuclear disaster occurred just as the cabbages were ready for harvest.

The farmer’s bereaved family demanded compensation from the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., through the nuclear damage claim dispute resolution center set up by the government. The two sides are expected to reached a settlement soon. I found the following words from the farmer’s 37-year-old son, Kazuya Tarukawa, striking: “We filed a claim not because we wanted money, but because we wanted to stop (TEPCO and the government) from saying the nuclear accident caused no deaths.”

I think Tarukawa spoke his true feelings.

I don’t know whether she knew of the plight of the cabbage farmer or not, but on June 17, Sanae Takaichi, who chairs the Liberal Democratic Party Policy Research Council, said, “This is not a situation in which the accident caused deaths.” She made the remark in connection with plans to restart nuclear power plants that have been idle since the disaster. I wonder which of the remarks can win public understanding.

The problem is not Takaichi’s alone. The Abe administration's inclination to go back to nuclear power generation is made up of the three arrows of “taking advantage of confusion,” “leaving questions unanswered” and “chipping away at barriers.” With those in the business world acting as cheerleaders, the administration is moving little by little toward its goal of restarting idled nuclear reactors while hiding and giving a glimpse of its true intent. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is traveling overseas as the top salesman of Japanese nuclear technology.

A newly approved white paper on energy makes no reference to the proposal made by the Democratic Party of Japan-led government last year to phase out nuclear power generation.

The white paper reflects a drastic “changing of the times.” Many people will be surprised to hear that the government has not taken down its banner of “moving away from dependence on nuclear power.”

Before we knew it, the focus of politics shifted to the economy, overshadowing the nuclear power issue. But the agonies of Fukushima continue. Despite this fact, politicians are starting to speak about the continuing aftereffects of the March 11, 2011, Great East Japan Earthquake in the past tense. The Upper House election is quickly approaching. Let us carefully examine what is going on in this current political climate.

--The Asahi Shimbun, June 19

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Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column that takes up a wide range of topics, including culture, arts and social trends and developments. Written by veteran Asahi Shimbun writers, the column provides useful perspectives on and insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.

Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a daily column that runs on Page 1 of the vernacular Asahi Shimbun.


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