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A Korean student's view of the Fukushima crisis

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On March 11, 2011, an earthquake with a magnitude of 9.0 on the Richter scale struck the northeast region of Japan. The gigantic magnitude of this earthquake caused multiple tsunamis which were followed by devastating consequences. Japan has confirmed 15,854 deaths, 26,992 injured and 3,155 people missing across 20 prefectures. This gave grief to everybody around the world.

But the thing which brought the utmost devastation was the meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. The meltdown sent serious radiation leak into the air, soil and water. It relatively should have been a relief if the aftermath of the meltdown was limited within Japan. But that was not the case. It has caused serious anxiety in neighboring countries such as China, Russia and especially Korea.

Damage caused by natural disasters is something that humans cannot control, but controlling the extent of the damage is what we can do. Even though this catastrophe wasn’t something Japan had been expecting, Japan needs to take full responsibility for domestic and foreign suffering.

Didier Champion, a crisis manager at the Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN), emphasizes that it is essential for Japan to maintain continuous monitoring of fruit, milk, mushrooms and fish etc. Serious contamination was caused to the environment and it gave direct damage to the food chain.

Food is something that we need for our lives, and it is also important to bring in fresh and healthy food to our tables. But Japan is not helping to do so. Recently, Korea is more frequently finding radioactive materials in fishery products from Japan but has no immediate plans to ban imports. This is a problem caused by Japan because of their continuous export on contaminated products. If Japan is willing to take much responsibility on this case, domestically, they should not manufacture products that may be potentially affected by the radiation, and must stop exporting those products to other countries.

This may cause some downfall on Japan’s domestic economy. However, they should not think to solve this problem by themselves, but to reach out for help to other nations. They should ask for aid and support, and import safer products from other countries rather than risk consuming domestic products and exporting them overseas. If Japan really cares about their nation’s welfare, it is time to partially throw away their political and economic fidelity.

Subsequently, Champion warns Japan that there is no guarantee of whether they would not have another incident like Fukushima, which means that Japan needs radical and rapid changes in order to prevent further accidents.

It is hard to comprehend why Japan took the risk and started building nuclear plants in the first place. Japan is one of the geologically unstable country where earthquakes frequently occur, which is highly unsuitable in building nuclear plants. It is shown by last year’s incident that Japan is definitely not the safest ground to build nuclear power plants.

Japan is gradually reducing its dependency on nuclear power plants, so they now need find other alternatives to cover electricity supply. Using renewable fuels such as solar power, wind and tidal waves is one of the solutions. If they are to use the remaining nuclear plants in the short term, they ought to make strict safety standards for the nuclear plants. But it is said that the Japanese government is still far from setting new safety standards. Japan should think faster in order to prevent further disasters because nobody can predict when the earthquake will strike next.

The Noda cabinet has adopted new environment basic plans incorporating the experience of Fukushima nuclear crisis which brought safety as the main goals of the plan. This is a positive sign of Japan reacting actively to the crisis, showing they are trying hard to take responsibility of the incident. The initial contamination from the meltdown of Fukushima incident has greatly declined, however the contamination will be chronic and everlasting. The current damage in other nations may not be as severe as in Japan. But as we have seen from the 1986 Chernobyl accident, we do not know what will happen and how long and how far it will affect us in the course of time.

In summary, Japan should implement strict and wide-ranging solutions to minimize the fallout caused by the Fukushima crisis. Japanese domestic products should be fully examined before export. They should devise strict plans to keep these accidents from happening again. It may take a considerable amount of time to get visible effects, but if Japan shows that they are giving their utmost effort, it will definitely relieve the anxiety of other countries.

© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

10 Comments
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To avoid being overly sententious, "I respectfully disagree with you."

-5 ( +3 / -7 )

Many of my Chinese and Korean college students here in Japan express the same worries as the author above.

In fact they go so far as to say "We do not have earthquakes in our country as in Japan." In other words, it's fine to have nuclear power stations in Korea and China, but not in Japan.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Please state (in a polite manner) why you disagree. That is what the discussion board is for.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Thank you, Eui-Hyun Kim for your perspective, that was one of my favorite article's since I moved to Japan!. Also I thank Japan Today News, for covering this!.

-5 ( +6 / -11 )

Dear Mr Kim, you may be surprised by this, but many Koreans still prefer Japanese food (I have no idea why, really).

Recently, Korea is more frequently finding radioactive materials in fishery products from Japan but has no immediate plans to ban imports. This is a problem caused by Japan because of their continuous export on contaminated products. If Japan is willing to take much responsibility on this case, domestically, they should not manufacture products that may be potentially affected by the radiation, and must stop exporting those products to other countries.

Isn't it a problem of Korean government to impose ban on food imports from Japan, if they a concerned about hte safety o f their own people? Japan could impose srticter control on its export, but to demand that they impose a ban on their own products is ridiculous, naive and arrogant.

Yes, and I believe that under current political situation on Korean penincula , it is not safe for Korea to build Nuclear Power Stations either. They make great targets, you know.

Anyway, you are free to choose safer Chinese products,which are already flooding your market after the FTA with China.

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

i'm guessing that the korean government hasn't banned japanese imports cause they are not over "safe" levels. that's why i purchase all my produce from western japan. otherwise, this article doesn't say anything that is not obvious.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

In a nutshell, this is all that this essay ammounts to:

Japan hasn't totally contained the nuclear fallout to within the Japanese isles (an impossible and moronic expectation) and so neighboring countries are suffering from anxiety.

Japan is responsible for anxiety-related "suffering" in Korea and other neighboring countries.

Japan is monitoring radiation levels of exported food products but nonetheless should cease all exports despite radiation levels that are safe for human consumption and because of the 'potential' for radiation contamination.

Ceasing exports will hit the Japanese economy hard so it should, "reach out for help to other nations." Read: Import the same food from Korea and others and accept what? Foreign economic aid to sustain their dairy, rice, etc. producing industries while they remain suspended due to consumable but 'anxiety' causing radiation levels?

Japan should, "think faster," so it can make the complete switch to green energy, a feat no other nation has successfully achieved.

The GOJ is acting and taking steps in the right direction but it will never be enough because the contamination is, "everlasting," and unpredictable. In the meantime Japan should feel responsible for its anxious Korean neighbors and suffer (economincally) further although it may not/won't alleviate any problems, perceived or otherwise.

And again the pointless summary that isn't really a summary because it doesn't correspond directly to specific cogent points in the body. And the final line is the kicker. The bottomline? The steps prescribed by the author may not be effective at all, but that's okay because it will help Koreans and other neighbors feel less anxious about their unscientific and irrational fears from eating nuked Kobe beef.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

I realise that this is not presented as factual reporting, only as a subjective view from one person, but for me, it contained too many errors to take seriously.

"But the thing which brought the utmost devastation was the meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. "

Given that 20,000 or so were killed by the tsunami, and none (so far) by the nuclear accident, this is a truly bizarre statement. True, the exclusion zone has had to be abandoned, but the "utmost devastation" of property all along the coastline also came from the tsunami.

"Japan is gradually reducing its dependency on nuclear power plants" - well, no. First of all it switched them all off; now it's starting to switch them back on again. Long-term energy policy had been to increase dependency on nuclear power, but that's all under debate at this point.

I could go on, but I won't.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Agreed with USNinJapan. A pointless summary indeed, I won't even bother repeating what has already been said by USN. As a matter of fact, the majority of Koreans were celebrating and excitingly voicing approval towards the catastrophic nature of the tsunami, all of them feeling schadenfreude at the misery of their long hated neighbor.

-3 ( +1 / -3 )

If I remember rightly there was massive panic some days after in Korea around 3/11. The Koreans had picked up on the fallout that had circled the globe! Schools were closed on account of this and children kept home!

And Korea has just banned fish imports for a large number of species from Japan!

Unfortunately, radioactive contamination shows a tendency to increase after time and the Japanese have attempted to downplay,disregard and even hide the truth regarding this.

Japan has a long history of waste export (contaminated or not) and the regulations for export are minimal.

'Anxiety' won't be quelled by Japanese regulators but by the importing country's regulators undertaking inspections and bans.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

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