from japan-focus.org / December 26, 2011 /
By Nishioka Nobuyuki
I: Fukushima and Okinawa
At midnight on April 22, 2011, the Japanese government designated the zone within a 20-kilometer radius of the Fukushima nuclear power plant a controlled area under the Basic Law for Disaster Countermeasures. As a result, all entry into the zone was prohibited without special government permission. Some 78,000 people were separated from their homes, without knowing when they might return.
The government set the maximum exposure limit for children in Fukushima Prefecture at 20 millisieverts. The results of an analysis showing that the No. 1 reactor suffered a core meltdown the day after the earthquake were not released until more than two months had passed. Core meltdowns occurred in the No. 2 and 3 reactors as well. For a long stretch of time, data from the SPEEDI (System for the Prediction of Environmental Emergency Dose Information) network was not made public. Looking at this pattern, one gets the sense that the government had written off the people of Fukushima as if it were inevitable for some to die from radiation-caused diseases.
In Okinawa as well, we learned from the WikiLeaks site that the government was already telling the US at the end of 2009 that it had reverted to the plan to move Futenma airbase to Henoko. Turning a deaf ear to the consensus of the Okinawa people, from the governor on down, against relocating the base within the prefecture, the Japanese government’s pledge to “carefully explain” matters amounts to telling Okinawa to renounce its demands for a reduction in the burden of US military bases on the island.
The government has turned its back on Fukushima since the accident, just as it has deserted Okinawa on the issue of US bases. The dictionary defines kimin (abandoned people) as those “who have been removed from the protection of a state.” Have the residents of Fukushima and Okinawa become “abandoned people”?
Nuclear power plants and US military bases are made possible by the discriminatory policies of the central government. The depopulation of the Japanese countryside, combined with deteriorating economic and financial conditions exacerbated by the wave of town and village government mergers (the “Heisei consolidation”), has put local governments in a stranglehold. In this stressed condition, generous subsidies, municipal construction projects, and promises of jobs have been dangled before localities in exchange for agreeing to host nuclear power plants or military bases. During the Battle of Okinawa, Japanese military authorities did not trust the Okinawan people. Having failed to completely indoctrinate Okinawans as imperial subjects, the military began to adopt policies of abandonment that included forced mass suicides. This has continued for 66 years since the war. Connecting the Fukushima nuclear accident with the problem of the Battle of Okinawa and postwar US and SDF bases should give some clues regarding the future direction of a movement that aims for a society without war.
In the two months since the Great East Japan Earthquake and the Fukushima nuclear accident, the damage from radioactive contamination has grown increasingly severe. The earthquake and the massive tsunami were natural disasters, but the accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant was clearly a man-made disaster caused by the Tokyo Electric Power Company and the Japanese government. The responsibility for compounding the losses from an unprecedented natural disaster with one of the worst nuclear accidents in history is not something that can be absolved through public apologies and compensation. Rather, it is necessary to thoroughly examine and demand accountability for the mistakes committed by political and business circles, as well as the nuclear academy, during the sixty years that this nation has hurtled down the road of nuclear power development.
I hope to shed light on the sullied structure of “nuclear power state monopoly capitalism,” which becomes visible when one investigates the government’s pro-nuclear power policies and the reasons an unprecedented accident like the Fukushima meltdown occurred. Without reforming and dispensing with this retrograde system of control, we will never break the chain of structural violence in Japan nor create a peaceful society.
Translated by John Junkerman