Fukushima Secrecy Syndrome: 5 years in prison for catastrophe aftermath disclosure

Fukushima Secrecy Syndrome: 5 years in prison for catastrophe aftermath disclosure

Last month, the ruling Japanese coalition parties quickly rammed through Parliament a state secrets law, under which the government alone decides what are state secrets and any civil servants who divulge any “secrets” can be jailed for up to 10 years. If journalists are caught in the web of this vaguely defined law, they can be jailed for up to 5 years.

Government officials have been upset at the constant disclosures of their laxity by regulatory officials both before and after the Fukushima nuclear power disaster in 2011.

 

Week after week, press reports have kept revealing the seriousness of the contaminated water flow, the inaccessible radioactive material deep inside these reactors and the need to stop these leaking sites from further poisoning the land, food and ocean. Officials now estimate that it could take up to 40 years to clean up and decommission the reactors.

Another factor that’s also feeding this sure sign of a democratic setback is that militarism is raising its democracy-menacing head, prompted by friction with China over the South China Sea. Dismayingly, US militarists are pushing for a larger Japanese military budget. China is the latest national security justification for the US “pivot to East Asia” provoked in part by the US own military-industrial complex.

 

Draconian secrecy in government and fast-tracking bills through legislative bodies are bad omens for freedom of the Japanese press and freedom to dissent by the Japanese people.

The New York Times continues to cover the deteriorating conditions in the desolate, evacuated Fukushima area, and with good reason. The US has licensed many reactors of the same designs for performance at home, and many of those are of the same inadequate safety and inspection standards. Some are near earthquake faults with surrounding populations unable to be safely evacuated in case of serious damage to the electric plant. A case in point is two such reactors, located 30 miles north of New York City.

The less the Americans are able to know about the past and present conditions of Fukushima, the less they will learn about atomic reactors in their own country.

                                                   

Fortunately many of Japan’s most famous scientists, including Nobel laureates, Toshihide Maskawa and Hideki Shirakawa, have led the opposition against this new state secrecy legislation with 3,000 academics signing a public letter of protest. The letter claims the secrecy law is a threat to the “fundamental human rights established by the constitution”, so the law “should therefore be rejected at once”.
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