Friday, February 12, 2016
Naoto Kan: 'if you love your country, let nuclear go!' - The Ecologist
It's widely agreed here in the rapidly Disuniting States of America that the most notorious of the Republican presidential candidates have not only abandoned, but torn up the rulebook of acceptable behavior. Lies, taunts, profanities all have become the norm.
But what if one of those candidates promised, if elected, to risk the death or permanent exile of a quarter of the country's population? That would surely evoke the well-used slur of the Right: 'unpatriotic!'
And insane, you say. Except that being certifiably unhinged doesn't seem to be a disqualifying factor in US presidential campaigns these days. Still: purposely putting your electorate at risk when other choices are open to you certainly smacks of treachery.
In the normal scheme of things, leaders of nations don't set out to deliberately wreck their countries, although arguably some have made political choices that have done precisely that.
It's therefore no coincidence that the leaders at the time of the two countries that have experienced the world's most catastrophic nuclear disasters, are fervent campaigners against any further use of nuclear energy.
They see the choice to continue with nuclear power, knowing the risk to the nation they swear an oath to protect, as tantamount to declaring war on your own country.
Former leaders during nuclear meltdowns, now oppose nuclear power
Former Soviet Premier, Mikhail Gorbachev, who led the then USSR during the April 1986 Chernobyl nuclear reactor explosion in Ukraine; and Naoto Kan who was prime minister of Japan when the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster began, both now travel the speakers' circuit extolling the need to abolish nuclear power.
Kan, now 69, who resigned the premiership in August 2011, has become a ubiquitous and compelling voice for the global anti-nuclear movement. Gorbachev is equally on board but, due to age and infirmity (he turns 85 on March 2nd) is less often in evidence.
Kan made his case in January during a presentation at the UK's House of Commons co-organized by Nuclear Free Local Authorities, Green Cross International (the group Gorbachev founded) and Nuclear Consulting Group. Gorbachev was scheduled but had to cancel.
Kan compared the potential worst-case devastation that could be caused by a nuclear power plant meltdown as tantamount only to "a great world war. Nothing else has the same impact."
Japan escaped such a dire fate during the Fukushima disaster, said Kan only "due to luck". But he is clearly haunted by the map his advisors showed him in the early days of the still unfolding triple meltdowns, one he screened for his London audience:
"I was shown this map with a 250km radius around Fukushima. An area home to 50 million people. One quarter of the country's population would have had to flee if all the fuel had escaped at Fukushima. We came that close. If 50 million people had had to evacuate Japan, as a state our very survival would have been questioned..."