Last year’s nuclear disaster at Fukushima was caused by overconfidence, both by the Japanese government and Tepco the company that manages the plant. That was the conclusion of a report on the causes of the accident on March 11th 2011. The paper also said officials did not properly understand the reality of the danger until it was too late.
Toshio Tanako a member of the inquiry team said:
“When and if a disaster strikes, it becomes necessary to make decisions in harsh and extreme conditions. If one is not prepared to do this, then I don’t believe that one has the qualifications to run nuclear power plants. Looking at it that way, I have to wonder whether those involved really were prepared before the accident.”
The 450 page report is based on interviews with 772 people who were involved before and during the accident. The group of experts – engineers, scientists and lawyers – found that personnel received insufficient training and that there was an unsuitable management structure.
The report also calls into question the direct intervention of Prime Minister Naoto Kan saying that “this caused confusion, preventing important decisions from being made and led to erroneous judgements”.
This criticism come at the same time the government opened a new investigation into recent press revelations which found a subcontractor had encouraged its workers to cover their radioactivity badges to give lower readings and therefore allow them to continue working on Fukushima.
Even if the report advises more stringent security measures, it would appear that Japan will still continue to rely on nuclear power to some degree. In 2010, it provided 27 percent of its energy, and by 2017 it has been forecast that it would provide 40 percent of the country’s electricity needs.
Immediately after the Fukushima catastrophe, the reactors were shut down. But since two stations were recently restarted, it is clear that Japan plans to continue on a nuclear path to supply its ever growing energy demands.
The country’s nuclear policy – which was put in place after the 1973 oil crisis to ensure diversification and energy autonomy – is increasingly unpopular. Recent polls show that 80 percent of the Japanese population are against nuclear energy.