One of the lessons that Japanese college students learned from the 2011 nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is that there needs to be more transparency from the government and
corporations during times of disasters. Both the government and Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), the plant’s operator, came under criticism for their handling of the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.
Tohoku University student Sawa Ando said that the people who are affected by the disaster need better communication efforts from the government. She shared that her parents were at that time living in a
town in Fukushima called Minamisoma, and it was only because they were able to find out about the nuclear accident that they were able to evacuate. But her parents saw that the information was slow in reaching some of the residents, especially those who were living in remote areas.
Another student, Oka Konako, said that she knew a lot of Japanese people who relied on foreign media to get information during the disasters, but for those who did not have access to that, they were kept in the dark about what was happening. She said that the advantage of foreign media is that they can be more critical of the government and that they are honest with the viewers about the dangers of the nuclear accident, without trying to hide information to protect the operators.
However, Niizeki Kohei, a student who lives in Fukushima has also told the foreign media that they should be more careful when they do their reporting, so that people from other places won’t be scared of Japan and that misinformation will not spread. “The Fukushima prefecture – except for that small area – is completely safe,” he clarifies.