19 Juin 2012
TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Public trust in scientists has declined significantly since the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disasters, the government said in an annual report Tuesday.
Among the reasons for the decline, the 2012 white paper on science and technology noted the lack of Japanese-made robots able to be used at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex, and scientists' inability to predict the magnitude-9 temblor.
The survey also indicated that while about 65 percent of people in Japan still trust scientists, sharply down from the pre-disaster level of 76 to 85 percent, many scientists are unaware of a change in public perception.
The white paper did not show a clear stance on the government decision to set the allowable radiation level for children at 20 millisieverts per year after the outbreak of the nuclear disaster, and its failure to disclose data on predicted dispersion of radioactive materials collected by the System for Prediction of Environmental Emergency Dose Information, or SPEEDI.
Meanwhile, the government also issued an annual report on disaster prevention, stressing the need to review the current counter-disaster system by learning from the latest disaster.
Touching on the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the 2012 white paper on anti-disaster measures said it was regrettable that the prime minister's office could not obtain sufficient information amid the malfunction of the information collection and distribution networks, while the authorities could not provide sufficient support for evacuees.
The white paper also referred to a possible gigantic earthquake whose epicenter is focused on the Nankai Trough in the seabed off central to western Japan, saying it is necessary to establish a system for smooth evacuation from tsunami and prompt anti-disaster education.
On a possible earthquake whose epicenter is below Tokyo, the paper proposed strengthening measures to help those who cannot return home due to disruption of transport and enhancing anti-disaster measures for the central government's key functions.