According to the annual report by the government, the 2012 white paper on science and technology concludes that the Japanese people have steadily lost their trust in scientists. The sharp decline in trust stems out of the events that occurred after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. The inability of Japanese-made robots to cope with the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility was cited as one of the primary reasons.
Another reason for the decline in trust is the incapability of scientists to predict the 9-magnitude earthquake. Almost 65% of the population still trusts scientists, but this number is a sharp fall from the 76 to 85% that supported them during the pre-earthquake period. Sadly, many scientists are still unaware in this shift in public sentiment.
Interestingly the white paper does not clarify the people’s stance on the government’s decision to reset the permissible radiation level for children at 20 millisieverts per year, after the nuclear disaster. The government also failed on the count to disclose data on predicted dispersion of radioactive materials as collected by the System for Prediction of Environmental Emergency Dose Information, or SPEEDI. We all know Takashi Uesugi’s stand on reporting of the Fukushima disaster, and it doesn’t take a genius to figure that the public is still on the fence about how right or wrong the government has been with regards to reporting or rehabilitating the affected people. The bottom line is that Japan needs to step up its game plan for preventing future disasters by learning from previous mistakes.