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Japan's postwar gov't, media colluded on nuclear power: Nobel winner

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government and the media colluded to give nuclear power a stranglehold

And a good strangling is what Japanse people are getting out of all this.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

I don't like this guy. He is nto only a leftist but also a snob. He refused to receive Japan's highest cultural award Bunka Kunsho while he gladly received a Nobel Prize.

-23 ( +10 / -31 )

Well, you may not like him but he is definitely knowledgable and wise. Definitely an intellectual. This is an excellent article. Perhaps to this day one of the best pieces I've seen on JT.

So the protest is on Monday. Hope the weather holds up.

2 ( +12 / -10 )

Schopenhauer. Read his books. I don't get the impression he is a snob. If you are going to the protest, avoid subway stations near the PM's residence. The coppers held some people captive down in the tunnels last time so that they could not join the protest. Reminds one of the Gestapo.

9 ( +16 / -7 )

Schopenhauer: "I don't like this guy. He is nto only a leftist..."

Bye bye credibility! I'm sure there are reasons he received one award but not the other. And as was posted after your post, the man is clearly an intellectual and knows a lot more than you or I on the issue.

Hopefully this puts enough pressure on the media to indeed cover things better and not just continue to toe the party line.

8 ( +15 / -7 )

Oscar-winning composer Ryuichi Sakamoto and several other prominent cultural figures, including journalist Satoshi Kamata and economics critic Katsuto Uchihashi have also been involved in the protests.

So in otherwords, people that have no idea what they are talking about are against it... Sounds like the free trade agreements all over again, where a tiny vocal minority dictate absolutely everything (and make things harder for everyone else)

-17 ( +7 / -23 )

The very opposite of a snob. He is actually consumed with a deep empathy for the dispossessed or downtrodden and didn't accept the award out of a concern concerned about the possibility of a revival of state-centered nationalism in Japan. I agree about reading carefully before leaping to wild generalizations.

12 ( +18 / -7 )

It's not like Japan has natural resources of it's own. Unless you want the smog-like environment hovering over Japan, what other alternatives did they really have besides importing more fossil fuels into the country. Build thorium reactors Japan. You already have the technology, just scale it up.

4 ( +14 / -10 )

I don't trust people who enjoys a good life in this country while always bitching about the government. He is a "sentimental" leftist intelletual. He is a man who used to praise the communist China. There are many who work and worked hard to buld and support today's Japan in silence enduring hardshps. It is a virtue and I am for them.

-9 ( +12 / -21 )

The left is filled with people who are "experts" in one field and then claim to be experts in another. Sure this guy may be a good writer, but that doesn't make him an expert on nuclear energy, politics, or economics.

Sadly, the average Joe on the street (and the average JT poster) can't tell the difference.

It is this that led to the big tragedy” of Fukushima in March 2011, said Oe

Uh, no. What led to the tragedy was building a reactor near an earthquake fault and a known tsunami zone. There's nothing inherently wrong with nuclear power. It's only when you leave in the hands of idiotic government bureaucrats do the problems start.

If this guy had his way, then all nuclear reactors would be removed.

Then they would protest anything that's not "green".

Pretty soon there would be barely enough power to sustain life. The elite left don't care about the average Joe. They just want to create a world where they have their power, prestige, money, and everybody else has to do what they are told, and live in abject poverty.

-7 ( +14 / -21 )

basroil. You are not a nuclear or radiation expert either so why don't you stop posting if you believe what you preach? 7.5 million signatures on a petition may be a minority but it is hardly tiny.

9 ( +17 / -9 )

I don't trust people who enjoys a good life in this country while always bitching about the government.

Well, that's over 95% of the population you don't trust.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

@Basroil So the opinions of composers, journalists, economists and assuming you include Oe, academics are of no importance on the nuclear issue. I'm just wondering whose opinions should be valued - those of your good self?

11 ( +17 / -7 )

Basroil.

I just want to thank you.

You're actually doing the anti-nuclear camp a great service with your posts.

-2 ( +10 / -12 )

gaijininfo. I see. The people on the so-called left are a selfish lot who pretend to know everything and the bureaucrats are all idiots. You are so much smarter than everyone I guess. Maybe we should make you King and all would be equitable, fair and right?

-9 ( +6 / -15 )

Readers, please keep the discussion civil. Focus your comments on the topic and not at each other.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@gaijinfo @Green Panda- Both absolutely spot on and grounded in reality, unlike most of the other posters so far. It is, of course, extremely important that the momentum towards investment in the appropriate management of nuclear energy, as well as in solar and other natural power sources continues to build in Japan. We need more Masayoshi Son-types to act, rather than simply posture, until this momentum makes the scale and price of alternative sources - both economically and environmentally - comparable or better than fossil fuels.

6 ( +13 / -7 )

Uchihashi said Japanese media in general should be more active in covering the demonstrations...

No time for that. Have to report about the latest penguin getting its name. Gotta report on baby pandas... Oh, and whatever AKB48 have been doing the last 24 hours.

I don't know, is any real reporting done around here? Like the digging kind of reporting? Exposing dirty politicians, corruption, unjust practices etc. Where I come from, once in a while, bad s**t is exposed and people are even sometimes held accountable. Journos press on, demanding to get answers and if they don't, they press on some more.

I might be wring, but I have yet to encounter that here. Maybe it's outside the mainstream media?

Anyway, I am glad to see some people demanding answers and action from their politicians. Good on you!

2 ( +8 / -6 )

He is a Nobel laureate for Literature, not Environmental science or technology. People need to stick to their expertise before fuming up publicly. I do not want Japan to use fossil fuel. I enjoy the fresh air and do not want it to be polluted. How many nuclear reactor disaster happened in Japan? One? That too was due to a major natural disaster. I am willing to take that chance over continuous Carbon mono oxide poisoning. Those who are going to protest against nuclear power should find an alternative first that is practical in this low natural resource country. And I also don't want to give more money to middle eastern countries to buy more fuel from them.

-6 ( +13 / -18 )

Sadly the govt & media have been & continue to collaborate on a hell of a lot more than just nuclear power!!

2 ( +8 / -6 )

OnniyamaJul. 13, 2012 - 09:42AM JST

not a nuclear or radiation expert either

Odd, I've always said that where I don't have expertise I rely on the words of those who do. If this guy were to actually back up his ideas with proper research, perhaps I would care to listen a bit more.

7.5 million signatures on a petition may be a minority but it is hardly tiny.

7.5million just like the 100000 at Noda's? I doubt the actual number of people who signed were more than a tenth at best. Compared to the tens of millions who really don't care, it is far too small.

-8 ( +8 / -16 )

Nuclear power is a scientific issue first and foremost, then economic and political... Literature does not come into play, nor does music... Get the scientists in on the debate please!

-3 ( +9 / -12 )

basroil. So where is your evidence to back up your last statement? How do you know what actual numbers were??? I see. The rule does not apply to you.

0 ( +7 / -7 )

Radiation is every ones business.

11 ( +19 / -8 )

Basroil

So in otherwords, people that have no idea what they are talking about are against it... Sounds like the free trade agreements all over again, where a tiny vocal minority dictate absolutely everything (and make things harder for everyone else)

Yes basroil, you'd have to be an engineer to criticize nuclear or the media or just about anything...

3 ( +10 / -8 )

basroil

Nuclear power is a scientific issue first and foremost, then economic and political... Literature does not come into play, nor does music... Get the scientists in on the debate please!

It's also a moral issue. Science can only explain a certain things about nuclear in general. We alone decide what we should do with the knowledge.

3 ( +10 / -8 )

The role of the media colluding with J-gov is highlighted in Gamble and Watanabe's book 'A Public Betrayed', an excellent account of Japanese journalism, or the lack of. The kisha club and lack of objective reporting, whitewashing the past, the weekly tabloids who are amongst the best news sources, media assassination of anyone who does not 'toe the party line' and the abject fear of losing advertising revenue and business connections if anything untoward leaks out. Recommended reading...

5 ( +11 / -6 )

I have stated this several times on the forum but I think most people didn't believe it. It came to light after documents in the U.S. were recently released under the Freedom of Information Act.

If we turn the clock back to the mid 1950's, when the LDP gov't of the day was deciding a policy of nuclear energy, it was in fact, America which wanted Japan to build atomic power plants, because it knew it would be limited in the number of its own plants it could build. America wanted additional sources of plutonium to build tens of thousands of atomic weapons. With the help of the CIA, America helped the LDP gov't to cover up or hide essential documents from the Japanese public, on the dangers of using atomic energy.The gov't declared nuclear energy to safe, and the cheap fuel of the future.

Turn the clock forward to the 3/11 LEVEL 7 nuclear disaster, which not only shook the country, but the world too. For decades, the people believed what the gov't said, "Nuclear energy was safe, clean and cheap". To a large extend, the veil of secrecy which kept the real truth hidden from the people has been lifted.

We have learnt more about the countries nuclear industry in the last six months than in all of the last four decades. The report from the gov't commission investigating the disaster confirmed it was a man made nuclear disaster. That had also been confirmed by the long investigation and report by Dr. Kenichi Ohmae, a nuclear reactor scientist. The power companies had put profit before safety. Being an ex engineer, I had assumed the atomic plants operated at the highest of safety standards, but what has been revealed is beyond shocking.

Report by Dr. Kenichi Ohmae. http://pr.bbt757.com/eng/ and an article on his findings, http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/eo20120418a4.html

Dr. Harukui Madarame, head of the Nuclear Safety Commission stated to the Diet, "the safety of the reactors couldn't be assured".

Japan is a country which sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire and experiences 20% of the world's most powerful earthquakes. 50% of the world's tsunami's are generated in the Pacific. There's a whole load of other natural events too, like typhoons. Atomic power plants should never have been built in this country.

A photo showing all the world's earthquakes since 1898.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2170140/Shaking-Map-major-earthquake-1898-reveals-stunning-image-planets-danger-zones.html?ito=feeds-newsxml

In America, nearly all the atomic power plants are located away from the Pacific Ring of Fire, with only about 5 or 6 on the West Coast, but we know from the Fukushima plant, it only takes one plant to go belly up, and California have their share of powerful earthquakes. The plants also use the same system of open pools for storing spent nuclear fuel. Some of the same reactor designs of 1-4 type at Fukushima, are also in use in America. I hope the safety standards have been reviewed.

France, which is a big user of nuclear energy, reviewed their atomic plant safety standards following the 3/11 disaster, and found them seriously lacking. They are now updating the plants.

The business of nuclear energy should be every one's concern, after all, over the past four decades, the taxpayer has shelled out trillions and trillion to the nuclear village, or on it's behalf. The taxpayer will shell out more trillions and trillions just to try and clean up and make safe the atomic plant in Fukushima. Nuclear disasters are also the concern of every one.

70% of the population are against using nuclear energy, or at least using less of it. That will probably happen in the near future with the gov't hinting only 15% use in the future.

The price of power generated from nuclear energy is set to rise at least to the cost levels of coal and gas, but will probably rise higher, and by 2030, nuclear energy will cost more than renewable energies.

13 ( +20 / -9 )

It's not like Japan has natural resources of it's own. Unless you want the smog-like environment hovering over Japan, what other alternatives did they really have besides importing more fossil fuels into the country.

Use renewable energy. Germany's solar alone has accounted for 10% of their total electricity production in May.

http://www.ecoseed.org/renewables/solar/15201-solar-now-10-percent-of-germany-s-electricity-production

Build thorium reactors Japan. You already have the technology, just scale it up.

Who has the thorium technology? There are no working, non-prototype thorium reactor in this world. Thorium sounds like the fabled fast-breeder reactor in Japan that never quite worked out and it has been a gigantic waste of money.

0 ( +10 / -9 )

gaijinfo

Sure this guy may be a good writer, but that doesn't make him an expert on nuclear energy, politics, or economics.

You don't necessarily have to be an expert, you just have to do some good research.

Honestly you're just blindly disagreeing because apparently your politics differ with his. I don't think that is any better.

3 ( +12 / -9 )

gaijinfo

Uh, no. What led to the tragedy was building a reactor near an earthquake fault and a known tsunami zone. There's nothing inherently wrong with nuclear power. It's only when you leave in the hands of idiotic government bureaucrats do the problems start.

Excuses, excuses, excuses. Does it matter whether it was the earthquake or the bureaucrats or human errors or some freak accident? The fact is that it happened, and you can't change that. I don't see any any other sources energy production exploding and causing a nuclear meltdown.

-4 ( +6 / -10 )

I don't trust people who enjoys a good life in this country while always bitching about the government. He is a "sentimental" leftist intelletual...

Actually it does not matter so much how he is as a person, because his message can be evaluated on its own merits. Besides that it is typically very difficult to "see" how a person really is unless you are a close friend of his. And even in situations where a person has had a close relationship with someone, they have found out things about that person that has surprised them.

But in any case it does not matter so much, as anyone can see the dangers and government peoples self-interest in continued use of nuclear energy. Because of this it is good that well respected people speak out what they know, against it.

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

What solar production? Solar energy is still on it's baby steps. It is no a reliable continuous energy source. I have solar panels in my house, and I can not depend on them 100% even if I wrap my house with solar panels. What do you want to do on the rainy season, eat half cooked rice because it is raining for 3 days? Be practical. Show a "reliable" source...not something "part time".

2 ( +10 / -8 )

@zichi - Your points are extremely valid, but the horse has already bolted. People are justified in their protests about nuclear power (while strangely not that bothered about fossil fuel energy production), but in order for the world as we know it to continue, we need alternatives. Moral outrage needs to be channeled into something positive because the same protesters in Japan would undoubtedly be pissed off if they had to suffer the summer heat and humidity, as well as all the other inconvenience that comes with power cuts, for prolonged periods.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

The earthquake and tsunami of 3/11 were natural disasters but the nuclear disaster was man made because it could have been avoided if sufficient safety standards had been used. Water tight emergency systems, electrical switch gear located above the level of the first floor, water tight doors on the reactor building. Emergency water supply to cool the reactors. None of it rock science, just plain common sense.

The safety standards were based on probabilities and not on possibilities. No one in the safety chain actually believed a nuclear disaster could happen.

For those you are commenting about experts, it's the experts which failed the country and the people, leading to the world's second largest nuclear disaster after Chernobyl. There are so many experts in the chain. The trained nuclear engineers and technicians of TEPCO, the nuclear reactor experts from the companies which designed the plant. Experts in the Nuclear Safety Commission and NISA whose role was to set the standards for atomic power plant safety. Experts at the IAEA. There's no shortage of experts, hundreds of them, and they they all share in the knowledge that they helped to cause the nuclear disaster. There's plenty of non experts too, like four decades of LDP gov't's and the board of directors at TEPCO who refused to increase the level of safety, like increasing the height of the sea wall when other experts had told them it was necessary.

We have been failed by experts, and now the majority of Japanese people no longer trust them.

10 ( +17 / -6 )

Dont have to be a Nobel winner to figure out the govt , media , big business and power companies colluded on the nuclear issues.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

I don't think anyone in Japan or the rest of the world thought that "nuclear power was safe". Especially after 3-Mile Island and Chernobyl no one really thought so.

What people in Japan believed was that the handling and regulating of the nuclear power plants was being done properly with the utmost care for the safety of the people.

This is where the collusion of the media and government fooled and betrayed most of the people of Japan.

5 ( +11 / -6 )

I think the protest should be to make the reactors more safe, not to stop using the nuclear power.

3 ( +9 / -6 )

meandmybigmouth

What solar production? Solar energy is still on it's baby steps.

It was 10% of their total energy production, that's significant. That's a 40% increase from last year. I'll bet than in 2 years, it will increase to 20%. Then in 4 years, it will increase to 40%. Then 80%, then 160%... pretty soon the entire country will be powered up by solar.

What do you want to do on the rainy season, eat half cooked rice because it is raining for 3 days? Be practical. Show a "reliable" source...not something "part time".

When it's raining then we can depend on hydro or wind. Even then, there are advancements in storage technologies like nano-engineered fuel cells. We can also import electricity produced from other areas where the sun is shining and the wind is blowing. I mean this is all already possible... it's already happening in Europe.

-2 ( +7 / -8 )

@meandmybigmouth - Why put all your eggs in one basket? A combination of power sources is perfectly feasible and will be a reality in the future. One of the reasons I installed solar panels on my roof, despite my desire to contribute to my power consumption, is that they pay for themselves eventually (over about 12 years). Solar's a good add-on in a generally sunny country.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Baibalkin,

The Oi 3&4 reactors were started, well No3 was started, and No4 is about to start, even before the new atomic safety agency starts, probably some time after Sept. The Oi plant has no offsite earthquake and radiation proof control center. KEPCO have promised to greatly increase safety standards, and I'm sure that they will, but most of the work will take about 5 years. Other power companies too, are working to increase their safety standards.

I accept the need in the near future to operate some of the nuclear reactors until other forms of energy are available. Solar energy can give a boost to peak time supply but it can't replace the base power provided by nuclear energy. May be geothermal is the only one that could do that.

But restarting of the reactors shouls have waited until the new atomic safety agency was functioning and had time to review the safety standards. The safest of the reactors are the ones that should be used, and the Oi 1-4 reactors are not those. The decision to start the Oi reactors was based on profit and not on power demands. The power companies make more profit from nuclear than coal and gas, or oil.

3 ( +9 / -6 )

Thomas, numbers are good, but we need practicality. First, make proposals, show how it can be done, do assessment...if it is feasible, I believe no one will disprove. Don't just turn off your lights before you know how to make candles...err solar powered lights.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

@Roughneck: Exactly what I was going to say. Good point!

2 ( +7 / -5 )

@Zichi Fair enough. The safest (!) of the nuclear reactors should certainly be used before others and if it's true that the level of demand for power did not justify the restart of the Oi reactors, heads should roll. Geothermal energy...now there's a thought in a country which is part of the Ring of Fire!

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Thomas AndersonJul. 13, 2012 - 12:02PM JST

It was 10% of their total energy production, that's significant. That's a 40% increase from last year. I'll bet than in 2 years, it will increase to 20%. Then in 4 years, it will increase to 40%. Then 80%, then 160%... pretty soon the entire country will be powered up by solar.

Where did you come up with that? The entire production for 2011 was 14.7TWh from 621TWh, or just 2.3% of production even though it made up 25GW worth of installed capacity, which is about 20% of their 140GW of capacity. Even if it were 40% increases (they may have installed capacity increase that much, but actual power generation has been much lower), it would take six and a half years to get to 20%, and by then their installed capacity would be 50% higher than their current generation capacity. Lets not forget that even with current prices it would be 10.8 trillion yen worth of panel, or more than the worth of all the Japanese electrical companies combined.

These don't work well in Japan though, since the government refuses to change time zones (should be +7 instead of +9), making peak solar production a few hours before actual peak.

2 ( +8 / -6 )

Zichi, thank you for your comments. Please give us the source of the U.S. intention to use plutonium from Japan for its bombs.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

zichiJul. 13, 2012 - 12:06PM JST

But restarting of the reactors shouls have waited until the new atomic safety agency was functioning and had time to review the safety standards. The safest of the reactors are the ones that should be used, and the Oi 1-4 reactors are not those. The decision to start the Oi reactors was based on profit and not on power demands. The power companies make more profit from nuclear than coal and gas, or oil.

Today is a fairly hot day in KEPCO region, and they are expecting about 23GW use. Without reactor 3, that would be between -2% and +10% safety margin. While the heavy rains filled the dams up to allow their use, peak summer weather tends to be much drier just before the hottest weather, so hydro loses quite a bit of it's punch. Even a "15%" cut on last year would not be enough to prevent blackouts (last year they managed only about a third of the cuts they requested, so if they again managed the same it would be a bit over 26GW. if 15% of 2010, even Oi 3 alone isn't enough, they would be about 1GW short).

While Oi 1-2 are considered unsafe due to neutron hardening, 3-4 have no such issues. And as PWR, there is pretty much no issue even with levels that would be considered unsafe for BWR, due to a difference in the emergency cooling methods (which is the only time that is an issue).

And money wise, they make no money from lot customers at peak power from gas/oil, and not much from coal. Unless you want residential and small business prices to go up significantly, they will lose money and eventually cost taxpayers a ton in bailouts.

1 ( +9 / -8 )

basroil,

KEPCO can generate 26-28GW, even without the Oi reactors and I think this month, July we won't even see anywhere the limits being reached. Next month? we'll wait and see.

3 ( +9 / -6 )

Rosan Daido,

sorry I didn't keep the links.

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

I dunno, I think it's a bit disingenuous to fault people for proposing nuclear power back in the 50's.

We didn't know then what we know now about nuclear power (and maybe more importantly, human nature/psychology).

Of course, then you can say, well, if they didn't know, then they should have refrained. Well, the thing is humanity is about taking chances and advancing -failed societies are riddled with tentativeness. What's that saying "It wouldn't be called research, if we already knew what we were doing"? Plus, alternative technologies of the day (50s and 60s) were no where near being ready for prime time power production. Alternative technologies were not really ready till 90s at earliest (and not economically viable, but feasible). It's not till now that they are economically viable.

In addition, as bad as the result of the meltdown has been, the systems did power the second ‡ largest economy for the better part of 40 years.

So this whole collusion thing is a bit revisionist, to say the least. It's more of an attack piece for the sake of some opportunistic recognition. I mean, it's in vogue, so why not pile on, right?

The fault, as other have said, was to keep some of these plants running past their sell-by-date and also for not making the necessary renovations to keep them up to revised code. And in the particular case of Fukushima, doing little to remedy the seismic and tsunami threats.

‡ Yes, I know it's 3rd now, but they helped make it and keep it second for quite a while.

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

All one has to do is read a Japanese newspaper for a few weeks to understand that much of Japan's "dirty laundry" is just not reported. Also... whenever you see that a politician is caught doing something wrong and it hits the press.... he's being thrown under the car by his fellow politicians and the press are cooperating. Actual investigative reporting in Japan is almost nill. However... that said... I know a small and very prosperous island in southeast Asia that is much worse.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Mr. Oe what is your point? That members of government ministeries colluded with a media owner to promote nuclear power? If so, are there any laws against it? What is your point?

1 ( +8 / -7 )

Matsutaro Shoriki was classified as a "Class A" war criminal after the Second World War. In Korea, he is known as the mastermind behind the ethnic cleansing on Koreans in the Tokyo area in the immediate aftermath of the Great Kantō Earthquake of 1923 when he was a police bureaucrat in the capital.

The Yomiuri Shimbun has always been a major supporter and contributor to the LDP gov't's.

The Yomiuri has a history of promoting nuclear power within Japan. During the 1950s Matsutaro Shoriki, the head of the Yomiuri, agreed to use his newspaper to promote nuclear power in Japan for the CIA.

Matsutaro Shoriki, the powerful head of the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper. Working with the CIA, Shoriki promoted the peaceful use of atomic energy as a means of "fighting fire with fire": Make the Japanese people tolerate America's nuclear deterrence policy by selling them on nuclear energy.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fd20110522pb.html#.T_-4paFhiSM

2 ( +11 / -9 )

Im getting tired of the calls of "they aren't scientists", "how can a lefty be trusted/listened to etc etc"... What has the right money driven policies given us lately?

Economic crises, nuclear accidents, massive, growing unemployment around the world with record profits and bonuses for the very companies are ruining "everyday" peoples lives.

Perhaps its time we started listening to great thinkers again who are more interested in people than money.

Now.. in this case there were scientists and engineers that had reported for years that these plants were not up to standard and even exposed safety coverups but because of the corrupt, profit orientated organisations that regulate themselves we have ended up here.. another system "too big to fail".

Japan could be a world leader in non-nuclear power generation within 10 years if they only had the leadership and desire to do it.

1 ( +9 / -8 )

Use renewable energy. Germany's solar alone has accounted for 10% of their total electricity production in May.

http://www.ecoseed.org/renewables/solar/15201-solar-now-10-percent-of-germany-s-electricity-production

Just one month? How about the first half of this year? Only 4.5% of their total electrical production.

http://cleantechnica.com/2012/07/04/germany-sets-a-new-solar-power-record-14-7-twh-in-6-months/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+IM-cleantechnica+%28CleanTechnica%29

Who has the thorium technology? There are no working, non-prototype thorium reactor in this world. Thorium sounds like the fabled fast-breeder reactor in Japan that never quite worked out and it has been a gigantic waste of money.

The US had developed a working thorium reactor in the 1960s at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. It's not some fable. It was scrapped because it didn't produce weapons grade waste for nukes. Japan also has developed the technology for a Thorium reactor. However the Fuji Molten Salt Reactor lacked funding to produce a smaller scale model MiniFuji. All that was really needed is a significant amount of money. China and India will be producing their own thorium reactors. It would be smart of Japan to invest in it's own thorium reactor industry.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Had the power plant that exploded and spewed toxic materials all over the region been an oil refinery, I wonder if we wold have seen people losing their collective minds over the perils of oil?

No, I don't think we would, even though the petroleum industry has arguably caused far more dramatic, far-reaching damage to our planet and society in terms of health impact, economic cost, and environmental devastation than Cherynobl and Fukushima combined.

No, of course not. That would require the application of some measure of reason and logic.

Let the "AAAAAUUUGHH!! NUCLEAR POWER!!" crowd continue with their monkey-flinging-poo hysteria.

0 ( +9 / -9 )

LFRAgain,

on 3/11, if I remember correctly at least two oil refineries or maybe one refinery, one large storage depot exploded from the earthquake and tsunami. One was in Miyagi, maybe the other was in Chiba?

While oil spills and oil leaks, like the BP in the Gulf of Mexico caused massive amounts of environmental damage, they never release high levels of radiation, like at Chernobyl and Fukushima. Radiation which spread to other countries.

I think you are the one lacking logic comparing oil refinery explosions with LEVEL 7 nuclear disasters?

1 ( +9 / -8 )

On Wednesday, TEPCO sent 8 of its workers and a robot into the No3 reactor building. The purpose was to put the robot into the Torus Room to video the damage and measure the radiation level.The highest reading taken by the robot was more than 300 millisievrts per hour, but the robot was fried by the radiation and now remains struck in the No3 Torus Room. 

This also happened on the 5th floor of the No2 reactor when another robot was fried in 880 millisieverts per hour.

http://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2012/201207-e/120712_01e.html

TEPCO have released new photo's of the extensive damage of the No3 reactor.

http://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2012/201207-e/120711_02e.html

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

zichiJul. 13, 2012 - 05:48PM JST

While oil spills and oil leaks, like the BP in the Gulf of Mexico caused massive amounts of environmental damage, they never release high levels of radiation, like at Chernobyl and Fukushima. Radiation which spread to other countries.

Why are you so worried about radiation? The answer isn't radiation poisoning (even in 10microSv/h areas you won't get it), the issue is people are afraid of cancer. What does crude oil have? carcinogens,mercury, and other nasty stuff that is just as bad. In terms of damage to the oceans, oil is far worse than radiation, since it tends clump up on the surface and kill plankton. The two are VERY comparable. This author also probably doesn't think so, but that would be a mistake.

While oil refineries have less crude than would be needed to compare them, the oil in Japan every month is far more polluting if released.

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basroil,

I'm no great supporter of oil and greatly reduced my personal oil consumption by not owning a car for the last 33 years, but I can't claim to be oil free since I use public transport, and trucks deliver the goods which I buy.

The clean up at the Fukushima atomic power plant will take many decades to clean up. Last year an old nuclear power in the uK was decommissioned but the gov't said it will take 90 years to complete. I think only one plant in this country has never been decommissioned. Even after the decommissioning is complete, there's still the problem of storing highly irradiated nuclear spent fuel for hundreds of years.

The Fukushima nuclear came so close to being far worse that what happened. The No4 spent fuel pool came so close to collapsing, which would have made it far worse, with probably the evacuation of Tokyo.

Even major oil spills can be cleaned up quicker than a major nuclear disaster. How many more decades do you think Chernobyl will take? In Chernobyl there's a pine forrest which is so highly contaminated, that if it ever caught fire, it would release very high levels of radiation.

Personally, I'm not worried about radiation because I'm too old to need any real concern, unless I was suddenly exposed to a high dose of radiation.

Oil spills tend to affect the wild life more than nuclear disasters which affect humans more than wild life.

For most of the Fukushima nuclear refugee's, they'll never be able to return to their former homes and communities. On the Gulf of Mexico people are still on the coast and fishing has resumed.

The oil in the sea will break down much quicker than radiation in the soil.

But I will be happy, if I live long enough to see the end of oil too.

A 95-year-old retired doctor is continuing to warn of possible health dangers to residents near the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant after some of them developed symptoms similar to those afflicting atomic-bomb survivors he treated for decades.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120712f3.html#.T__z3fVhiSM

LIVE LINKS FOR THE FRI DEMO

http://ex-skf.blogspot.jp/2012/07/friday-july-13th-protest-in-tokyo-live.html

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to the person who said this is an excellent article, really? Do you have any training in whats good journalism, theres NO sources, only heresay from a man who is notoriously anti-nuclear.

Anyway the ignorance of people will win over, why chance Nuclear when you can have coal and oil constantly killing people through pollution.

Basroil, nice to meet another person of intelligence and reason, thumbs up here my friend

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It's not like Japan has natural resources of it's own.

It's not like Japan doesn't get most of the earthquakes on the planet.

Why are you so worried about radiation? The answer isn't radiation poisoning (even in 10microSv/h areas you won't get it), the issue is people are afraid of cancer.

They do anyway. But in this case. they are afraid to become homeless beggars in a circle of 100 km next time a Tepco (or Kepco or any gogo) nuclear plant has an accident. Because that just happened last year... And who pays ? Japanese people.

oil is far worse than radiation,

Any accident with wide consequences in Japan ? Let us know. Just one Fukushima has caused more loss than all oil spillages in history.

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Why are you so worried about radiation? The answer isn't radiation poisoning (even in 10microSv/h areas you won't get it), the issue is people are afraid of cancer.

Yes, who`s worried about radiation? But.....what about all the crops and sea life that have been contaminated by radiation? What about the unease created by not being sure how safe food or drink is for your children? What about the woodland contaminated by radiation? There are still great fears around Chernobyl that forest fires could release huge clouds of radiation. While oil refineries and oil wells may cause great ecological problems, I just don't think they are in the same league as a nuclear disaster.

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What the "Stop the nuclear " crowd forgets it takes decades to decommission a plant, till than it is just as vulnerable as in cold-shutdown.

So all the shutdown plants in Japan, etc can still be triggered by an earthquake, etc as the fuel is still there and volatile. Unless new plants come online it will take 40-60 years to go nuclear free for the world.

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Oil spills tend to affect the wild life more than nuclear disasters which affect humans more than wild life.

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On solar panels, their construction of all energy means is one of the most polluting and dirtiest of all, and then the question of aging solar panels and their "recycling".

if we want something that is not going to plaster our planet with eyesores that are infamously ugly to build then i suggest more people read into Nuclear FUSION and perhaps think about a job in making that a success, no radiactive waste, no chance of meltdown etc etc

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A group of researchers from Osaka University estimate that eliminating nuclear power in Japan by 2020 and increasing renewable energy use to 20% of the total could create 200,000 to 300,000 new jobs annually.

Central Research Institute, Inc., a consulting company in Tokyo, predicts that the renewable energy sector, including wind and solar power, will employ 1.4 million people by 2020, as the renewables market expands in size to ¥50 trillion and beyond.

The Ministry of the Environment, in a report published in 2010, said that increasing the amount of renewable energy to more than 10% of the nation’s total energy output by 2020, could create between 458,000 to 627,000 jobs.

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Protests are happening in

Hokkaido Time: 6PM Event: Anti-Nuke Action against Hokkaido Prefectural government Place: in front of the Hokkaido Prefectural government office

Tokyo: Time: 6PM Event: protest against the restart of Ooi Nuke Plant Place: near Prime Minister's Official Residence in Nagata-cho, Tokyo

Ishikawa Time: 6PM Event: protest against the restart of nuclear power plants Place: in front of Hokuriku Electric Ishikawa Office

Aichi Time: 6PM Event: Action against KEPCO Place: in front of KEPCO Nagoya Office

Osaka: Time: 6PM Event: protest against the restart of Ooi Nuke Plant Place: in front of KEPCO headquarters

Kyoto Time: 5PM Event: Protest against KEPCO Place: KEPCO Kyoto Office

Hyogo: Time: 6PM Event: Occupy KEPCO Kobe Office Place: in front of KEPCO's Kobe Office

Nagasaki Time: 12:20PM to 12:50PM Event: Lunch time protest walk "Hydrangea action"  Place: Nagasaki City Hall Water Department - City Police - Nagasaki City Hall (長崎市役所水道局前→県警前折り返し→長崎市役所前)

Saga Time: 6PM Event: Goodbye Nuke Plant Saga Place: at a park on the east of Saga Prefectural Government Office 佐賀県庁東側の城内公園

Kagoshima Time: 6PM Event: Emergency Action against Kagoshima Prefectural Government, against the restart of Sendai Nuke Plant (in Kagoshima) 対鹿児島県庁、川内原発再稼働反対の緊急抗議行動 Place: unknown

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the point that mr. oe misses is not that the technology is inherently evil, or that nakasone's arguments about japan's lack of energy resources was invalid, but that nakasone was simply in league with the american military industrial complex, putting out the party line, setting up tepco, and having the junk GE (a pillar of the military industrial complex) nuclear power plants built in fukushima at a cut-rate unsafe level.

the whole world is in favor of phasing out nuclear power because it is inherently risky (maybe less so with thorium), but that will take time.

so i agree with schopenauer that there is a sentimentalist dimension to oe's criticism, as the point that is being overlooked is that had the nuclear power option been implemented in a more responsible manner, placing public safety over tepco profits and the american military industrial complex/LDP alliance, then the nuclear disaster that resulted from the earthquake and tsunami may very well not have happened.

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Hi! Where is the orbital microwave plant and Shimizu plans to put a solar belt in the moon? Let's put it in practice. Not in 20 years, but in 4!

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CosJul. 13, 2012 - 07:56PM JST

It's not like Japan doesn't get most of the earthquakes on the planet.

Your right, it doesn't get the most, though last year it did due to a huge number of large aftershocks. Japan has a lot of strong earthquakes, but far for most for it's size.

Any accident with wide consequences in Japan ? Let us know. Just one Fukushima has caused more loss than all oil spillages in history.

Actually, BP spill to date cost more than the government's estimate of Fukushima, and if you include financial losses on top of claims and cleanup, it is more than all but the most apocalyptic values (which include buying all the land within 20km at twice the standard rate). So far over 1 trillion yen spent and over 20 trillion yen in losses and lost income. Japan never had a major nuclear accident before Fukushima either, so you can't rule out problems.

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Nakasone was not the only one who made moves to introduce nuclear energy into Japan based on U.S. nuclear energy policy. Shoriki Matsutaro, owner of Yomiuri Shimbun and president of Nippon Television Network Corporation (NTV), was among the promoters of nuclear energy. He later became the first chair of the government's Atomic Energy Commission. Shoriki, who had an ambition to become prime minister, paid close attention to atomic energy to obtain pubic approval amid the raging public movement across the country calling for a ban on atomic and hydrogen bombs triggered by the Daigo Fukuryumaru incident. By making the maximum use of his newspaper and television network, he launched a campaign for the 'peaceful use of atomic energy.'

In May 1955, Shoriki invited President John Jay Hopkins of General Dynamics, the maker of the first U.S. nuclear-powered submarine Nautillus, and others to represent a U.S. mission for the peaceful use of atomic energy. Since November of that year, he spent a lot of money organizing expositions throughout Japan promoting the peaceful use of atomic energy under joint auspices with the U.S. State Department. He used 'all the power and influence of the Yomiuri Shimbun and NTV to have the topic reported in a favorable manner in order to drastically change public opinion (Mr. Shroiki's statement, Ten years in the development of atomic power, 1965).'

http://www.japan-press.co.jp/modules/news/index.php?id=1926

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This is one of the first discussions where most of you (especially zichi) have done some homework and research.

The problem/s is/are becoming much clearer as more and more facts are made aware and evaluated by everyone concerned, including those who are more idealistic than pragmatic or practical. That is great!

The fact is, we still do not know enough to evaluate the value to re-starts or even to discontinue the use of nuclear power.

Obviously, it has some benefits and can be rather safe. US, Russian, Israeli and I believe now even the Chinese submarines and aircraft carriers operate under nuclear power. So far... unless being kept a secret... since they are military use...there are no major reports of problems.

What do you say that?

Also, why are the governments of the world NOT looking for and introducing alternatives? Do anyone know of alternatives that can be adopted as the nuclear facilities are slowly decommissioned? Or do you think it is the OIL companies and the OIL producing nations have a hidden agenda and preventing same?

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@Thomas Anderson

Excuses, excuses, excuses. Does it matter whether it was the earthquake or the bureaucrats or human errors or some freak accident? The fact is that it happened, and you can't change that. I don't see any any other sources energy production exploding and causing a nuclear meltdown.

Speaking of sources of energy, it was indeed not the failure of the Fukushima nuclear plant that caused the most deaths (0), but rather the renewable energy source of Fujinuma Dam (4).

Producing energy always causes deaths, I suppose the worst being hydraulic power where dam failures have killed hundreds of thousands. Coal and oil, which are the energy sources now replacing nuclear, kill a lot of people and contaminate the mined land rendering it inhabitable for generations. If you calculate the risks and average them as you should, you'll find out that nuclear is actually a super safe way of getting current through the cables.

Wind turbines are a waste of time, there's no new technology there, all it takes is a generator spinning, and this has been known and optimized for centuries and thus now operates at a very high efficiency. This can be made more productive (in the bang-for-buck sense) through mass production, but the savings here are marginal to what solar and nuclear, both complex technologies, have to offer. Complex technologies tend to show a kind of exponential growth, best illustrated by Moore's law, as there are many points where you can improve on.

The only reason to abandon nuclear is political. In economics you'd never concentrate all your money on one investment, as this makes absolutely no sense, or to put it simply, is moronic. This is what the anti-nuclear movement is however all about. A sad state of affairs.

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zichiJul. 13, 2012 - 08:30PM JST

A group of researchers from Osaka University estimate that eliminating nuclear power in Japan by 2020 and increasing renewable energy use to 20% of the total could create 200,000 to 300,000 new jobs annually.

Did they say net job creation or just creation? I would guess the latter, as for the next decade renewable energy will still be expensive enough to cut a million manufacturing jobs as they are shipped elsewhere (and more as the economy stumbles).

Central Research Institute, Inc., a consulting company in Tokyo, predicts that the renewable energy sector, including wind and solar power, will employ 1.4 million people by 2020, as the renewables market expands in size to ¥50 trillion and beyond.

You yourself have stated that the entire energy sector is valued at just 5 trillion yen. Clearly this consulting company thinks that it is currently worth over 100 trillion today to say that 20% renewables in ten years is 50 trillion.

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basroil,

You yourself have stated that the entire energy sector is valued at just 5 trillion yen

I don't think I never said that. I think I stated the cost of decommissioning all the nuclear reactors, not including those at Fukushima, would cost ¥5 trillion, but the total worth of the 9 mainland power companies is ¥4.5 trillion, which would bankrupt at least three of the companies?

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Can't say I am fluent enough to fully appreciate Oe in his native tongue. I have read him in the original, and find his prose cumbersome, and his search for Japan's post-war identity typical of most authors of his generation: self-centered, obtuse and banal.

As you may guess, I am neither particulate fan of Oe as an author, or modern Japanese literature in general. But, as I say, I do admit my reading ability may be party responsible for this. On the other hand, 19th English literature suffered from this malady. As does contemporary post-modern lit.

Be that as it may, the issue is wheter Oe's, or any author's, comments bear any relevance to the pressing issue of the day, be it nuclear power, war, peace, or crime and punishment.

I think they do.

Literature remains the best -- and arguably, the only real place -- where moral and ethical exploration takes place. Sticking just to American literature, your Adventure of Huckleberry Fins, your LIghts in August, your Great Gatsbys, your Catch-22's and your Blues Eyes contain more wisdom and precise insight into the human predicament than all the Hebrew Bible, save Ecclesiastes, and the entire New Testament. Do not confuse (dubious) moral injunction with ethics. The obvious reason for good literature's superiority in this regard is simple: we are story-telling primates with an innate sense of morality and are capable of reason. Literature best combines these three in the search for ethical truth.

Yes, literature is the best means at our meager disposal to explore our condition. Or rather, that is the way it should be.

Sadly, Japanese post-war literature, like French post-war lit, retreats from an honest and ethical appraisel of self, community and nation. France failed to stand up against Nazi evil, and rather than struggle with that craven defeat, chose the easier path of denial: Deny evil. Embraced (first) existentialism and then post-modernism.

Japan cravenly fell to two forms of evil: the first, of their own making, the second of denial of the first. Rather than admit, as the German had, their evil, Japan chose to retreat in vicitimhood and isolationism.

And Japan's leftist intellectuals, like Oe, preached the new creed of Pacifism and neutrality in the Cold War in the vain and decietful attempt to turn their moral cowardice into a kind of a moral high ground.

So, yes, Oe's comments are important. They show how little Japan's pacifist left has come in 65 years. Which is, of course, only part of the story of Japan's inability to come to terms with her history.

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JTDanMan Jul. 14, 2012 - 01:46AM JST

Nobel literature prize worthy comment on the stance in terms of the writing style.

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Pro-nuclear strikes back!! Fossil Nuke are just wasting their time, really... I think that nuclear will just disappear on its own. Nuclear is just out of fashion, out of time, out of money...

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lambda

The only reason to abandon nuclear is political. In economics you'd never concentrate all your money on one investment, as this makes absolutely no sense, or to put it simply, is moronic. This is what the anti-nuclear movement is however all about. A sad state of affairs.

Erm, excuse me, but there was no country that was more politically enthusiastic about nuclear than Japan. 80% of their energy budgets went to nuclear. And all they got was a Fukushima.

So are you proving my point, that you shouldn't put all the eggs in one basket. Or do I have no idea what you're trying to say...

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Thomas AndersonJul. 14, 2012 - 02:15PM JST

Erm, excuse me, but there was no country that was more politically enthusiastic about nuclear than Japan. 80% of their energy budgets went to nuclear. And all they got was a Fukushima.

So are you proving my point, that you shouldn't put all the eggs in one basket. Or do I have no idea what you're trying to say...

1) Japan is actually the second most, the first being France, who designed fairly dangerous control methods for their PWR reactors so they could be follow power rather than just base load. France has 80% nuclear capacity, and so far no problems (except political ones)

2) Japan has just 24% nuclear capacity, and even if it had been 50% capacity it is far from all eggs in one basket. Since electrical companies don't make much profit off of coal/oil/gas, and negative profit off of alternatives. of course the government would fund research into the most profitable method. If you just take profit from nuclear before the accidents, you were looking at 1 trillion yen a year, and at 42% corporate tax you are looking at 420 billion yen in tax revenue. Looks like a healthy margin well above inflation rate.

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basroil

1) Japan is actually the second most, the first being France, who designed fairly dangerous control methods for their PWR reactors so they could be follow power rather than just base load. France has 80% nuclear capacity, and so far no problems (except political ones)

I said Japan's budgets, not capacity. Look up how much each countries spend on nuclear energy R&D. Japan spends the most amount of money on nuclear research. I believe Japan spends more than Us and France combined, etc.

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Thomas AndersonJul. 14, 2012 - 03:37PM JST

I said Japan's budgets, not capacity. Look up how much each countries spend on nuclear energy R&D. Japan spends the most amount of money on nuclear research. I believe Japan spends more than Us and France combined, etc.

Have you checked the actual numbers since 1950? I can't seem to find it. However, I have found numbers stating that Japan's non-nuclear R&D budget in terms of GPD for 2001 was 0.25% compared to France's 0.06% (and USA at 0.20, and Germany at just 0.07%).

From that, we can guess that Japan spends not only more than those two combined in nuclear (actually 64% of world research on nuclear is from Japan, which is also why they currently own all reactor building companies and make a killing, with Hitatchi and Toshiba each taking a huge market share chunk), but in energy in general.

The numbers further undermine this author's misguided ideas.

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Ugh, if you don't believe it then check the data for yourself. You're "guessing" while I actually have the data. Shows how much you seem to think you know.

Government Energy R&D Expenditure by Country, 1974 - 2010: http://www.cesifo-group.de/portal/page/portal/ifoHome/a-winfo/d3iiv/_DICE_details?_thid=17862607&_cat=c

Japan: 2884.109 million USD (2009) France: 606.261 million USD (2009) USA: 851.461 million USD (2009)

So actually, Japan actually spends 2 times the amount of US and France combined. That's astronomical.

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From that, we can guess that Japan spends not only more than those two combined in nuclear

Even then, Japan spends more than 80% of their energy budgets on nuclear.

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Even percentage wise, Japan spends more on nuclear than France and US combined. Japan spends about 70-80% of their energy budgets on nuclear. Even France just spends about 40%, while US about 10%.

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Nobel-winning author Kenzaburo Oe said Japan’s postwar government and the media colluded to give nuclear power a stranglehold, as activists readied for what they hope will be the biggest rally in decades.

And let's not forget Osamu Tezuka, pushing his nuclear-powered "Tetsuwan Atom" on an unsuspecting Japanese public.

“The United States offered the know-how, the machines and the fuel—which became the very first bit of nuclear waste now causing a big problem for us—for free to Japan.”

Wow, all that for free, and still Japan decided to pay the UK for Japan's first-ever nuclear reactor - the MAGNOX reactor at Tokai? Perhaps writing fiction has gotten so ingrained in Oe's mind that he cannot distinguish fantasy from reality.

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@JTDanMan

This article is not about Oe's fiction, including that about Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but about his criticizing the government for corruption and deception involving the collusion of a debased mass media. On the other hand, your free not to like his fiction.

I think that some of his criticisms are misplaced, but he is a novelist, not a historian or social theorist.

It's interesting that you mention a book of the old testament in relation to literature. I don't know whether many Jews would approve, unless they felt that you were in fact elevating that book above literature per se.

At any rate, it is probably better not to mix our categorical imperatives in this regard, that way we can focus on the issues without offending sensibilities that are unrelated to the issues.

If you offend sensibilities that are unrelated to the issues, you short-circuit the discussion of the issues.

That said, I have criticized Oe's comment already above, and am concerned that he is using his celebrity in a manner that is somewhat inconsistent, as he seems to have a less than thorough view of the big picture, and his opinions are influential because he is held in such high esteem by a large number of Japanese and others.

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Thomas AndersonJul. 14, 2012 - 04:18PM JST

Ugh, if you don't believe it then check the data for yourself. You're "guessing" while I actually have the data. Shows how much you seem to think you know.

I know the last ten years data, and it shows Japan winding down, US fixed, and France dropping a small amount. The issue is that some earlier data (especially 1950-1975) is non-existent and very little of the data available is inflation adjusted. France and US spent most of their R&D budgets in the 50s to 70s (big uptick for both around the oil crisis). Japan's energy policy shouldn't be taken out of context, especially since the push to nuclear was much later than USA and France.

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basroil

Thanks. You are too kind.

ubikwit

Oe is an author. And author who writes on social, political and philosophical issues, including nuclear power. That puts both his writing and his positions on the table. As does his activism, such as it it. As does his celebrity, such as it is.

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Yes USA offerred everything about the Nuclear power including the know how. Of course, it's a big business for USA. The media? of course they will swallow and published anything under the sun that will increae their sales and popularity which is good for their newspaper business. Who knows, maybe that newspaper companiy was bribed by the USA to convince people to use nuclear energy. Did they never learned from the effects of the atomic bomb dropped at Hiroshima and Nagazaki.

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bajhista65Jul. 16, 2012 - 03:13AM JST

Yes USA offerred everything about the Nuclear power including the know how. Of course, it's a big business for USA. The media? of course they will swallow and published anything under the sun that will increae their sales and popularity which is good for their newspaper business. Who knows, maybe that newspaper companiy was bribed by the USA to convince people to use nuclear energy. Did they never learned from the effects of the atomic bomb dropped at Hiroshima and Nagazaki.

It's very hard to understand your comment, let alone the argument. If I have this straight, you ignored the fact that the first working reactor in Japan was not USA made, that Japan currently owns all reactor manufacturing companies in part or whole, and that reactors and nuclear weapons are very different beasts, producing very different radiation and scale.

Worst of all, you seem to ignore books upon books worth of publicly available data that shows exactly what they learned (that at high radiation rates their estimates are validated, at low rates it's inconclusive and likely will remain so for centuries)

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