Post-Fukushima masquerade: politicians in Japan losing chance for green energy reforms

Richard Wilcox

Richard Wilcox holds a Ph.D. in Environmental Studies from a social science, holistic perspective. He teaches at a number of universities in the Tokyo, Japan area.

This article was published in Japan Times as a comment.

The author can be contacted on

The Japan Times July 3 editorial “DPJ ruins chance at power reform” perfectly summarized Japan’s farce of cardboard cut-out clowns masquerading as a political process.

The Democratic Party of Japan and other opposition parties abandoned their mission of serving the people. Instead of revising the Electric Utility Power Industry Law, they devoted themselves to protecting their own political power.

Politicians lost the chance to reform the energy monopoly — the very system that led to the Fukushima nuclear disaster two years ago. Lawmakers have not advanced the nation toward embracing more “dynamic market competition” that would lead toward decentralized and greener energy systems. Instead, the decrepit dinosaurs in the nuclear and oil cartels have won again.

Fukushima-government-liesHow ironic that as some estimates put the cleanup costs of Fukushima at a staggering $500 billion, risky schemes are being led by the Japanese government for infrastructure projects in the United States and Europe. What about investing in resolving the Fukushima nightmare so that the 160,000 people who have been displaced by the accident can live free from radiation fears again?

But Japan’s big government only cares about big money. It has now been documented that the government’s decontamination project was a failure and a scam. Instead of going to capable foreign and smaller domestic firms skilled in decontamination technology, cleanup contracts were handed out to major Japanese construction firms that were grossly lacking in such expertise. The big companies then outsourced the work to organized crime gangs who further botched the job.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. is not a disaster management and engineering firm equipped to deal with the world’s worst industrial accident in history. It is a utility operator and has been shown to be neither competent nor properly funded for the task at hand.

A team of scientific and engineering experts should be brought in to take over the disaster; after all, this is a global environmental issue. Without strong outside pressure, the bumbling Japanese bureaucratic and political system will continue to put Fukushima on the back burner.

Prime Minister Abe is doing the bidding of the nuclear industry, promoting the export of Japan’s dangerous waste-producing nuclear technology abroad instead of devoting himself to the urgent tasks at home.

Don’t worry, if we can’t figure out what to do with the nuclear waste, we can simply burn it. A “low-level waste” incinerator will be built in Fukushima to burn 14 tons per day of contaminated garbage, although some radiation will escape through the fumes and there will be the ash to deal with.

But what is the plan for the 280,000 tons of contaminated water — which grows daily — that Tepco stores on site? The company would like to dump it and its tritium, which cannot be filtered and remains hazardous for 250 years, into the ocean.

Don’t ask the Japanese government what the plan is, it doesn’t have a clue.

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