The March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan killed more than 25,000. However, since that day, it has been the nuclear energy issue which has garnered the most attention, despite nobody dying from radiation yet.
Of course, the long-term effects of radiation will not be known until well into the future because cancer clusters may or may not appear. Nevertheless, the unknown threat and the invisible nature of radiation remain the main cause of concern.
The Fukushima nuclear crisis has caused a varied response overseas. While nations like Switzerland and Germany have announced that they will phase out their nuclear power plants, other nations like China, India, South Korea, France and the United States remain committed to nuclear power.
It seems to me that the Fukushima crisis shows a split in philosophy between a pragmatic Asia and an oversensitive Europe. Of course, not all of Europe can be labeled together, but in countries like Germany and Switzerland, to name a few, the fear of nuclear meltdown in the wake of March 11 is causing major ripples.
In Asia, China and India have already indicated that they will continue to develop nuclear energy. The same applies to South Korea. The governments of those three countries believe that nuclear energy is a must. Also, unlike fossil fuels, nuclear energy is environmentally friendly.
In the aftermath of the Japan disaster, daily images of the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant appeared in the media alongside massive scaremongering stories with the result that some European governments, which had future plans for nuclear power plants in the pipeline, were forced to re-examine their plans.
Therefore, why are Switzerland, Germany and other nations in Europe, responding so differently from Asian nations such as China and India? After all, even in Japan, it would appear that nuclear energy will remain to be a powerful source of energy even if the current Japanese government introduces greater safety measures or focuses on alternative sources of energy.
Maybe the main difference is that environmentalists and the mass media are more motivated by green issues in Europe and they have a long-term agenda, allowing them to exploit an issue like Fukushima. The difference between Asia and Europe would appear to be based on political motives, the role of the green movement, the mass media which clearly overhyped the crisis in Europe, and other factors.
I find it rather strange for people to be marching about the nuclear issue when thousands of people are still missing in Fukushima, Iwate and Miyagi. It is also noticeable that the demonstrations in Japan have mainly been tame or often based on economic factors such as the plight of local farmers affected by the nuclear crisis in Fukushima.
After Fukushima disappears from the news, major nations in Asia will continue to forge ahead with nuclear power, but in parts of Europe, the opposite is happening and I expect to see a lot more soul searching going on.© Modern Tokyo Times