Japan PM: No individual to blame for Fukushima

Mar 03, 2012 by Huw Griffith
Journalists in protective clothing visit the stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant this week. No individual can be held responsible for the nuclear meltdowns at Fukushima, Japan's prime minister said Saturday, insisting everyone had to "share the pain".

No individual can be held responsible for the nuclear meltdowns at Fukushima, Japan's prime minister said Saturday, insisting everyone had to "share the pain".

Yoshihiko Noda told foreign journalists in Tokyo that the Japanese establishment had been taken in by the "myth of safety" around and was unprepared for a disaster on the scale of last March's accident.

A week ahead of the anniversary of the disaster, the premier swatted away a question over for meltdowns that forced tens of thousands of people from their homes and polluted the land and sea.

"Of course, the primary responsibility under Japanese law rests with the operator" of the stricken plant, Power (TEPCO), Noda said.

"But the government as well as operators and academia were steeped too deeply in the safety myth and I think that is what we can conclude.

"Rather than blaming any individual person I believe everyone has to share the pain of responsibility and learn this lesson."

Noda's comments come just days after an independent investigation panel revealed the president of TEPCO had wanted to abandon the plant in the days after the tsunami swamped its .

Map showing the impact of the explosions at the Fukushima nuclear power plant after the Tsunami a year ago. Japanese PM Yoshihiko Noda told foreign journalists in Tokyo that the Japanese establishment had been taken in by the "myth of safety" around nuclear power and was unprepared for a disaster on the scale of last March's accident.

A report compiled by private thinktank Rebuild Japan Initiative Foundation said it was only threats by then prime minister Naoto Kan that had prevented TEPCO from leaving the plant to its fate as the accident spiralled out of control.

Noda told reporters lessons had been and were still being learned from Fukushima, including "don't install power sources outside which are likely to be hit by a tsunami".

All but two of Japan's 54 nuclear reactors are presently offline, with local communities unwilling to allow them to restart amid a public backlash over the safety of a once-trusted technology.

Noda said electricity-hungry Japan would diversify its power sources, but stopped short of pledging to abandon .

"We have to grow out of our dependence on nuclear and we have to establish in the medium to longer term a society that does not have to rely on nuclear power generation," he said.

"We need to think about the best mix of energy that will give a sense of reassurance to the Japanese people. Some time in the middle of this year we would like to set the direction for this strategy."

The , who came to power almost exactly six months ago, said a year on from the tsunami that claimed 19,000 lives and left hundreds of thousands of people homeless, progress in righting Japan was being made.

But he acknowledged things were not moving as fast as they could.

"Unfortunately there is criticism that what we have done has been inadequate and we have been slow," he said. "We have to be receptive to such criticism."

He said recovery work was well under way, but that reconstruction would continue "intensively" for five years and should be complete in a decade.

"When it comes to reconstruction in areas seriously hit by the tsunami there is debate over whether they have to move to higher ground," he said.

"I think that local residents have to discuss and decide...and time is needed for that."

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User comments : 13

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JB7456
3.5 / 5 (2) Mar 03, 2012
Stunning that no one has mentioned the fraud that caused it all.

Brief intro...

One of the reactors in the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant may have been relying on flawed steel to hold the radiation in its core, according to an engineer who helped build its containment vessel four decades ago.

Mitsuhiko Tanaka says he helped conceal a manufacturing defect in the $250 million steel vessel installed at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi No. 4 reactor while working for a unit of Hitachi Ltd. (6501) in 1974. The reactor, which Tanaka has called a time bomb, was shut for maintenance when the March 11 earthquake triggered a 7-meter (23-foot) tsunami that disabled cooling systems at the plant, leading to explosions and radiation leaks.
kochevnik
2 / 5 (4) Mar 03, 2012
TEPCO announced that radiation drifting off it's disaster site is not it's problem. Nuclear energy is the gift that keeps on giving. Like AIDS.
Vendicar_Decarian
0.2 / 5 (36) Mar 03, 2012
Well then. If no individual was responsible, then no one can be held responsible.

Problem solved.

Aren't corporations considered to be people and have the same rights as an individual under law.

Apparently these corporate people are not to be held responsible for their failures.
MR166
2.3 / 5 (3) Mar 03, 2012
Although I am a huge fan of nuclear power, sometimes I think that man is too stupid to safely run a nuclear power plant. As far as I can figure out, from the news releases, this catastrophe happened because there were no generators available to power the cooling systems. NEWS FLASH!!!!! We have invented helicopters that can transport 100KW generator sets in just a matter of hours anywhere they are needed. Correct me if I am wrong here, but one would think that 1 megawatt ( 10 trips ) would be more than enough to power the cooling systems. If they refused to ask for help from other nations then they are too stupid to be running a nuclear power plant.
Vendicar_Decarian
0.1 / 5 (35) Mar 03, 2012
History agrees with you.

"I think that man is too stupid to safely run a nuclear power plant." - MR166
MR166
1 / 5 (2) Mar 03, 2012
Vendiar is seems that we are on the same side of an argument. The rational explanation is that the world will soon end.
kochevnik
1 / 5 (1) Mar 03, 2012
Apparently these corporate people are not to be held responsible for their failures.
Socialists let poor people off the hook. Socialists think corporations should be responsible. Poor corporations! See I can speak libertarian!!!
Vendicar_Decarian
0.3 / 5 (37) Mar 03, 2012
If the people don't want to eat radiation in their food, they shouldn't eat it.

It's just that simple according to Ayn Rand Ideology.

Odd that she decided to become an American welfare queen when she needed medical care isn't it?

eachus
1.8 / 5 (5) Mar 03, 2012
Sigh! At the time of the original problem, I realized that only in Japan was a series of events like this possible. Russians would make other mistakes, but an American control one of the reactors would have reversed the automated shutdown as soon as he got back on his feet. Early enough? Don't know. There were at least three operating reactors, and one that could have been started immediately. But no Japanese operator would dare try that without discussing it with the others in the control room--and those operating the other reactors at the site.

Then the tsunami washed over the breakwater and took down the electrical switching yard--and flooded the backup (diesel) generators. You've got four hours to get power to those cooling systems.

The US Navy immediately offered to send a (nuclear powered) aircraft carrier. After Katrina they provided electrical power to New Orleans. The Japanese character is to try to solve the problem themselves. Very, very, bad choice in this case.
dan42day
3 / 5 (2) Mar 03, 2012
If that had happened here in the U.S., half the people would have blamed Obama, and the other half Bush. We have it so easy here!
Squirrel
1 / 5 (2) Mar 04, 2012
Deference culture is to blame. Japanese simply will not say f*** to superiors when they should. Japanese fly crews in simulators, for example, "crash" more often when the senior pilot deliberately makes an error a junior should override as incorrect. The information that would have prevented this calamity existed in Japan but false respect that underlay "safety myth" neutered it from changing policy, planning and design. As noted by JB7456 above one of the steel vessels were manufactured was a flaw that was "corrected" rather than been completely remade.
kochevnik
2.3 / 5 (3) Mar 04, 2012
Russians would make other mistakes
Right now you have six new reactors with faulty lids, that CANNOT contain pressure in the event of a leak. Right now plants are opting to keep rusty, corroded and crumbling lids in lieu or the new lids with the faulty design. Right now your reactor near Oceanside, CA ruptured radioactive steam through BRAND NEW conduit. There are 1500 tubes bundled and often they rupture in a pressure point. That almost happened at another plant. An inspector said that had that happened, there were no backups and a China syndrome could ensue. Your misplaced confidence in your fellow countrymen who couldn't care less about your health is sad. I have (a bit) more confidence in the nuclear plants in Moscow, ONLY because they are not (yet) operated by soulless paycheck-cashing machines trying to cover their ass.
epsi00
not rated yet Mar 04, 2012
Whitewashing everyone is the Japanese way apparently. So this government, proven inept by this crisis, can ask for another mandate to lead Japan through another crisis from which the country may or may not recover.