We offer our condolences for all those who lost their lives in
the 2011 off the Pacific coast of Tohoku Earthquake. We also
express our concern and support to all victims of this disaster,
including those who were injured, lost family members and homes,
and those who must now live in evacuation shelters. May we all
work hard for rapid recovery and reconstruction.
An accident at
a nuclear power plant has also occurred with this massive
earthquake and tsunami. The Japan Association of Lawyers Against
Nuclear Arms takes the following position in regard to this
Radioactive materials (including caesium and iodine) have leaked
from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, exposing people
including nearby residents and workers to radiation. They are new
hibakusha, but must be the last. We cannot allow for any more
hibakusha. Radioactive materials from the power plant have been
detected in various locations. There is no telling how extensive
the damaging effects of the radiation will be on people and the
environment. The scale of this disaster surpassed that of Three
Mile Island and is being compared with
The nuclear power "safety myth" has collapsed. We demand that
Tokyo Electric Power Company, the Japanese government, and other
related organizations do their utmost to prevent further damage
and that everything possible be done to provide relief to
At this power plant, they were unable to prevent leakage of
radioactive materials coming from nuclear fission reactions
inside the nuclear reactor. Tokyo Electric Power Company and the
government have ignored opinions pointing out the dangers
accompanying the use of nuclear fission energy, and have instead
propagandized the safety of nuclear power. The courts have also
accepted this position.
Reality has proven otherwise. Many people are now suffering the
consequences of a rudimentary error -- a cooling system
malfunction which made it impossible to decrease the temperature
at the reactor core.
According to Section 3 of the Act on Compensation for Nuclear
Damage, "where nuclear damage is caused as a result of reactor
operation . . . the nuclear operator who is engaged in the reactor
operation . . . on this occasion shall be liable for the
We will now make it clear who is responsible for the new
The pro-nuclear lobby is claiming that the cooling system
malfunctioned because of power failure and problems with the
backup diesel-powered generators resulting from an earthquake and
tsunami of unforeseen scale. This sounds as if they are blaming
the cause on a natural disaster that surpassed expectations. They
may be keeping in mind the proviso in Section 3 of the Act on
Compensation for Nuclear Damage that stipulates that the nuclear
operator shall be liable "except in the case where the damage is
caused by a grave natural disaster of an exceptional character."
It is common knowledge, however, that natural disasters such as
earthquakes and tsunami occur frequently in the Japanese
Archipelago. In 2006, Member of the House of Representatives
Hidekatsu Yoshii (Japanese Communist Party) had already pointed
out that "if decay heat cannot be removed, the worst case
scenario could involve a meltdown, phreatic explosion, hydrogen
explosion, etc." He persistently demanded that the government
explain how it would respond if sufficient power could not be
secured in the case of an earthquake or tsunami. In 2007, the
members of the Fukushima Prefectural Assembly of Japanese
Communist Party demanded that Tokyo Electric Power Company take
necessary measures saying, "if an earthquake of the same
magnitude as the Chile Earthquake were to create a tsunami, there
is the danger that cooling water would be lost and cause a
terrible accident at the Fukushima power plant."
The government responded as if it were someone else's problem
with, "We are of the understanding that measures have been taken
to ensure that the reactor can be cooled." Tokyo Electric Power
Company refused to take such measures.
Although the current situation was foreseen, both the government
and Tokyo Electric Power Company failed to take any measures.
Their poor foresight and failure to take preventative measures
must be pointed out to make clear the tremendous professional
negligence on the part of the nuclear plant operators. And we
must not overlook the irresponsibility of the government. We
cannot accept the "grave natural disaster of exceptional
character" as an excuse. This nuclear power plant accident also
contains aspects of a "man-made" disaster.
Among the government and certain intellectuals, there are those
who say that this degree of radiation leakage will not impact
health. The government, however, has a history of ignoring
internal radiation exposure from the atomic bombing, as seen in
the process of official recognition of atomic-bomb illness. There
are intellectuals who have rationalized this claim as well. The
mechanism of radiation exposure -- internal radiation exposure in
particular -- is still unclear, but its dangers were made evident
in the process of court suits regarding official recognition of
It is plain arrogance to underestimate the dangers of radiation
on the human body that are still not fully understood. Humanity's
knowledge and technology are yet insufficient to control
radioactivity. We must make this truth known.
The government should not just state the existence or degree of
danger, but on the principle of "do not hide, do not lie, do not
purposely underestimate," the government should immediately
disclose objective data and request expert analysis.
We demand that Tokyo Electric Power Company immediately provide
the government with timely data. We also demand that the
government discloses information and gather expert analysis to
"prepare for the worst and do its best."
Nuclear energy has been touted as a clean energy response to
global warming. However, its use of nuclear fission makes it
inherently dangerous. The current situation speaks for itself.
Nuclear energy is neither safe nor clean.
In addition, while the earthquake and tsunami of this time might
have been the largest in Japan's recorded history, they were not
the largest in human history. They were foreseeable and should
have been foreseen.
The pro-nuclear lobby has been much too ignorant, insensitive and
irresponsible regarding the dangers of both radioactive materials
and threats of nature.
Sources of energy are essential to human society, but human
safety must not fall a sacrifice to securing energy. It is sheer
recklessness to entrust safety-management to businesses driven by
the profit principle. Looking at Tokyo Electric Power Company's
response to this incident, it is clear that there has been
insufficient information disclosure and irresponsible handling of
In addition, it is detrimental to have a state institution that
cannot control corporate bodies. It is necessary to examine the
role and work of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency located
within the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.
The government's ignorance and irresponsibility towards the
dangers of nuclear power is also evident in its position on
trying to ensure our country's security with nuclear weapons.
We demand that there be a sincere verification of the negative
impacts of nuclear energy on human health and environment, and
serious examination of whether it is possible and realistic to
control those impacts.
Nuclear weapons cannot coexist with humanity, so we call not only
for their abolition, but we also demand that our country's
nuclear power industry be re-examined, based on the premise that
respect for human life is of utmost importance. [E]
Copyright © Japan Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms, 2011.
Reprinted for Fair Use Only.