A Korean student's view of the Fukushima crisis
On March 11, 2011, an earthquake with a magnitude of 9.0 on the Richter scale struck the northeast region of Japan. The gigantic magnitude of this earthquake caused multiple tsunamis which were followed by devastating consequences. Japan has confirmed 15,854 deaths, 26,992 injured and 3,155 people missing across 20 prefectures. This gave grief to everybody around the world.
But the thing which brought the utmost devastation was the meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. The meltdown sent serious radiation leak into the air, soil and water. It relatively should have been a relief if the aftermath of the meltdown was limited within Japan. But that was not the case. It has caused serious anxiety in neighboring countries such as China, Russia and especially Korea.
Damage caused by natural disasters is something that humans cannot control, but controlling the extent of the damage is what we can do. Even though this catastrophe wasn’t something Japan had been expecting, Japan needs to take full responsibility for domestic and foreign suffering.
Didier Champion, a crisis manager at the Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN), emphasizes that it is essential for Japan to maintain continuous monitoring of fruit, milk, mushrooms and fish etc. Serious contamination was caused to the environment and it gave direct damage to the food chain.
Food is something that we need for our lives, and it is also important to bring in fresh and healthy food to our tables. But Japan is not helping to do so. Recently, Korea is more frequently finding radioactive materials in fishery products from Japan but has no immediate plans to ban imports. This is a problem caused by Japan because of their continuous export on contaminated products. If Japan is willing to take much responsibility on this case, domestically, they should not manufacture products that may be potentially affected by the radiation, and must stop exporting those products to other countries.
This may cause some downfall on Japan’s domestic economy. However, they should not think to solve this problem by themselves, but to reach out for help to other nations. They should ask for aid and support, and import safer products from other countries rather than risk consuming domestic products and exporting them overseas. If Japan really cares about their nation’s welfare, it is time to partially throw away their political and economic fidelity.
Subsequently, Champion warns Japan that there is no guarantee of whether they would not have another incident like Fukushima, which means that Japan needs radical and rapid changes in order to prevent further accidents.
It is hard to comprehend why Japan took the risk and started building nuclear plants in the first place. Japan is one of the geologically unstable country where earthquakes frequently occur, which is highly unsuitable in building nuclear plants. It is shown by last year’s incident that Japan is definitely not the safest ground to build nuclear power plants.
Japan is gradually reducing its dependency on nuclear power plants, so they now need find other alternatives to cover electricity supply. Using renewable fuels such as solar power, wind and tidal waves is one of the solutions. If they are to use the remaining nuclear plants in the short term, they ought to make strict safety standards for the nuclear plants. But it is said that the Japanese government is still far from setting new safety standards. Japan should think faster in order to prevent further disasters because nobody can predict when the earthquake will strike next.
The Noda cabinet has adopted new environment basic plans incorporating the experience of Fukushima nuclear crisis which brought safety as the main goals of the plan. This is a positive sign of Japan reacting actively to the crisis, showing they are trying hard to take responsibility of the incident. The initial contamination from the meltdown of Fukushima incident has greatly declined, however the contamination will be chronic and everlasting. The current damage in other nations may not be as severe as in Japan. But as we have seen from the 1986 Chernobyl accident, we do not know what will happen and how long and how far it will affect us in the course of time.
In summary, Japan should implement strict and wide-ranging solutions to minimize the fallout caused by the Fukushima crisis. Japanese domestic products should be fully examined before export. They should devise strict plans to keep these accidents from happening again. It may take a considerable amount of time to get visible effects, but if Japan shows that they are giving their utmost effort, it will definitely relieve the anxiety of other countries.