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Ex-Japanese PM on How Fukushima Meltdown was Worse Than Chernobyl & Why He Now Opposes Nuclear Power

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Three years ago today a massive earthquake triggered a devastating tsunami that struck Japan’s northeast coast, resulting in an unprecedented nuclear crisis: a triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station. As Japan marks the anniversary with continued uncertainty around Fukushima’s long-term impact, we are joined by Naoto Kan, Japan’s prime minister at the time. It’s rare that a sitting world leader changes his position completely, but that’s what Kan has done. He explains how he came to oppose nuclear power while still in office, as he weighed Tokyo’s evacuation. “It’s impossible to totally prevent any kind of accident or disaster happening at the nuclear power plants,” Kan says. “And so, the one way to prevent this from happening, to prevent the risk of having to evacuate such huge amounts of people, 50 million people, and for the purpose, for the benefit of the lives of our people, and even the economy of Japan, I came to change the position, that the only way to do this was to totally get rid of the nuclear power plants.”

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Three years ago today, a massive 9.0-magnitude earthquake triggered a devastating tsunami that struck Japan’s northeast coast. The twin disasters resulted in an unprecedented nuclear crisis: a triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station. Three years later, about 267,000 people are still living in temporary housing and other makeshift facilities. Many cannot return home due to high levels of radiation. The cleanup and decommissioning effort at Fukushima could take decades. In February, the owner of the nuclear plant, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, said about 100 tons of highly radioactive water had leaked from one of the hundreds of storage tanks at the devastated plant. On Sunday, thousands of Japanese residents marched to Parliament and called on the new Japanese government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe not to restart some of Japan’s 48 idled reactors. Speakers at the rally included former Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan, who held the post at the time of the Fukushima meltdown.

NAOTO KAN: [translated] I believe that now is the crucial time for us to eliminate nuclear power, or we forgive the Abe administration, which is going in the opposite direction.

AMY GOODMAN: Since the Fukushima crisis, Naoto Kan has become a vocal critic of nuclear power, saying it’s too dangerous for Japan to keep open any of its nuclear plants. Up until the time of Fukushima, he was a longtime supporter nuclear power.

Read the full transcript at the Democracy Now! site

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