Former Prime Minister Naoto Kan shared his change of paradigm regarding nuclear power during an environmental symposium in California, where an ailing nuclear power plant also stands. He said that what happened in Fukushima in 2011, when he was still Japan’s premier, opened his eyes to the dangers nuclear power brings. Kan even admitted shame for being an instrument of Japan in exporting nuclear technologies.
The former prime minister emphasized the importance of having a global network for environment advocates so people concerned with nuclear power issues and renewable energy utilization can share ideas and experiences. “Only a nuclear accident could displace 40 percent the population,” Kan shared. “I concluded that the only way to contain this risk was to create a society that does not rely on nuclear power.” The event, which was organized by Friends of the Earth, was Kan’s first public address since he left office six months after the Fukushima power plant disaster.
The symposium also heard perspectives from professionals whose nature of work involved nuclear power information. Gregory Jaczko was a former US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chairman while Arnie Gunderson was a retired executive in a nuclear industry. Law Professor Peter Bradford worked at the NRC during the 1979 nuclear accident at the Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania.
During a trip in Japan, Gregory Jaczko said he met a family who had to live in separate towns because of the Fukushima disaster. “We have to make the rules such that there will never be another evacuation from a nuclear accident,” he said. Four new reactors are being built in the states of Georgia and South Carolina. Jaczko feared these reactors might become operational prior to the full implementation of the NRC regulatory changes, which resulted from the Fukushima accident. In San Diego County, two reactors have ceased to operate since 2012 because of a leak from a new steam generator, which was manufactured by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. Attendees of the symposium were hopeful that what happened in Fukushima will serve as a valuable lesson on how dangerous a nuclear power plant can be, causing environmental issues even after two years of the accident.