Thousands Participate in 6/11 “No-Nuke People Action!”
Banishing the Nuclear Beast Back to Hell
By RICHARD WILCOX
Richard Wilcox lives in Tokyo and contributes to the Can Do Better blog http://candobetter.net/node/2428 which is documenting the nuclear crisis.
“Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.” – Ed Abbey
Three months after the March 11 earthquake and nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan, thousands in Tokyo and other places in Japan came together for a lively “no-nuke action.” Although organizers had hoped to get a “million” people to participate, Japan is a very conservative society where most people do not express themselves on the streets in such a way. Although the anti-nuke movement is small, dedicated and vocal, they have shaken the foundations of the decrepit and corrupt Nuclear Village itself. It is reported that by April of 2012 all of Japan’s nuclear reactors will be shut down due to routine maintenance, but if they are prevented from being restarted due to community opposition that would mean the entire country would become nuke-free while having to increase energy supplies from elsewhere (natural gas, oil, coal etc.). Thus, there are many people who while not protesting are becoming very skeptical of nuclear power, upwards to two thirds supported the closing of the Hamaoka power station.
This comes at a time when the IMF, the international plunderers of national nest eggs, recommends tripling Japan’s sales tax to help pay off its supposed debts. The economy in Japan has not recovered due to the double whammy of the tidal wave devastation in the northeast, followed by the ongoing uncertainty of events at Fukushima. The billions of dollars to pay for the nuclear disaster does not include damage to the wider economy. How many businesses, including famous products such as Japan’s green tea and sashimi (raw fish) are going to become tainted with radiation, thus a less tantalizing purchase?
Communities are waking up and asking for better radiation testing of land, air, food and water. In Tokyo there was only one air radiation monitoring station until the government finally declared they would put a hundred in place. The demon hot rogue micro particles, those damnably unstable atoms emitted from Fukushima No. 1 that are now sharing our air space have made some people quite worried.
The spirited turn out on 6/11 against nukes is a heartening moment for those who long for some sanity in an unstable world. But to make alternative energy work in place of nuclear will require hard decisions, long term planning and a program of national energy saving. Japan has many creative engineers who if funded and left to their own devices could turn out a slew ideas, including alternative energies, energy saving schemes, alternative building materials and the like. Artists and thoughtful architects, along with city gardeners, could envision how to build livable cities and send the bureaucrats packing back to their concrete office buildings where they could sit in their boring meetings.
Culturally speaking, this will require a shift in values from greed to restraint, from materialism to simplicity. This is not where the values of most people are at the moment, having been programmed by their High Deafening TV sets andschools and government propaganda to think only in terms of corporatist values. What one sees in Tokyo these days is the insatiable consumption of frivolous plastic junk from China instead more traditional Japanese values of frugality and restraint.
The corporate media in Japan which is heavily owned and influenced by the electrical power companies themselves has largely ignored the the disaster in Fukushima as well as the protest movement. So we face a population primed for more capitalist greed and a virtual computer reality on the one hand, and the need for community oriented, simpler, old fashioned life styles on the other.
Vested interests will resist change as we have seen with campaigns to promote national unity in support of farmers and fishers, even though some of their products are tainted with radiation. Take the good old construction industry, which has pretty much turned Japan into one oblong block of concrete– these folks do not spend a lot of time contemplating the reflections of Henry Thoreau (“In wildness is the preservation of world”). Recycling radioactive sewer sludge into concrete blocks in order to cut costs and jump start Japan’s ailing economy is tempting. One such factory in Koto ward of Tokyo may have been caught incinerating radioactive sewer sludge and spreading Fukushima radiation for a second time! Local mothers protested.
Japan could reduce huge amounts energy consumption simply by reigning in unrestrained consumerism. Vending machines gulp up significant amounts of electricity, not to mention the innumerable convenience stores that stay open 24/7. Turning Heat Island cities like Tokyo into green-leafed, pleasant and less populated cities, would help to reduce energy consumption; creating buildings out of hemp that stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter would also help; sending folks back to the countryside to resume farming would put the unemployed and disaffected to work and and give spiritual replenishment. However, economic policies such as the Trans Pacific Partnership are forcing Japan in the opposite direction which is toward greater dependence on imports while drastically lowering food self sufficiency.
I am making it sound easier that it will be, and even alternative energies and materials are not “free lunches.” For example, while industrial hemp is indeed a miracle plant supplied to us with the love of Mother Earth, it still uses 25 percent of the amount of land that forests use for the wood and paper industries. As Swedish writer Firmin DeBrabander warns us in a recent article:
“It’s time to be courageous and think big about altering our lifestyle, values and future. The powers that be are reluctant to rock the boat with consumers, and have decided that leaving consumption habits intact as much as possible is the preferable option. They’d rather get us into electric cars, rather than out of our cars altogether….we need more than half measures at this point.”
Many of these quandaries will have to be tested, tried and worked out, and many sincere policies will fail. But banishing nukes back to the Pit Of Hell from whence they came must be an uncompromising position. Even though many countries in the world are still pressing the nuke-power direction, overall the air is escaping the balloon faster than they can pump their toxic air back in.
The radiation released from Fukushima (perhaps 20 percent the amount from Chernobyl, not including the tons of radioactive water which TEPCO is trying to store) is now considered to be a possible cause natal mortality in North America. We can be assured there will be cancer deaths down the road in Japan, perhaps in the tens of thousands, if not more. As Arnie Gunderson, a leading expert on Fukushima recently stated, “we are not out of the woods yet.” Gunderson thinks
that within a year the three melted reactors will be cool enough to finally gain control of, which is good news, but that is a long time from now and a lot of radiation (150 terabecquerals per day by a government estimate) is still spewing into the environment. Furthermore, reactor no. 4 will take many more years beyond that to render safe. Its spent fuel pool of highly radioactive waste sits in a precarious position, something Humpty Dumpty might have a hard time putting together again if another huge earthquake were to devastate the
In the meantime, Fukushima city, home to 290,000 people (minus 10,000 children who were sent to other parts of Japan for their safety), suffers daily radiation levels several times higher than the recommended dose. Their mental and physical health is being sacrificed, along with the 1,300 workers at the Fukushima power station who are slowly being ground into dust for the sake of the misguided dream of “safe and clean energy.”