For sixty years the nuclear industry has gambled with the lives and safety of millions of people. It has bet that nothing will ever go wrong with their reactors. This gamble puts all the risks on the public.
In Tokyo, Greenpeace Japan has staged a couple of interventions over the past few days in an attempt to get nuclear gamblers Hitachi and Toshiba to admit the reactors they built for Fukushima were part of the disaster problem. Their bet was that there would never be a problem.
They were wrong. The bet was a bad one for the people of Japan who are now paying for the disaster, not the nuclear industry.
The costs of the disaster – compensation for the many victims, decontamination of the environment – will likely hit $110 billion and may go past the $250 billion mark. Despite being responsible for supplying and supporting the three destroyed Fukushima reactors, Hitachi and Toshiba, along with General Electric the designer of the flawed reactors, have yet to pay a cent towards their gambling debts.
So we went to see Hitachi and Toshiba to see if we could get them to face up to their responsibilities and pay what they owe. We took along the wishes of the more than 100,000 people who have already signed our Fukushima disaster petition.
On Friday, our campaigner Hisayo Takada spoke directly to Hitachi’s CEO at the company’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) and asked him about Hitachi’s corporate social responsibility:
“The Fukushima disaster happened at reactors that Hitachi built. Nuclear is only 2% of Hitachi's sales yet by promoting nuclear business, you may risk Hitachi's credible corporate brand that has been built through your quality home appliances. Greenpeace thinks that expanding Hitachi's renewable energy and its IT businesses while phasing out its nuclear business would meet the interests of both society and shareholders.”
Like a gambling addict in denial, Hitachi’s management replied that they are not responsible for the Fukushima disaster. CEO Nakanishi said, 'I never, even a second, felt shameful that we are doing nuclear business.'
Might we suggest he visit some of the 160,000 victims of Fukushima, still homeless, without adequate compensation, and facing an uncertain future. Shameful.
Greenpeace activists then visited Toshiba, gathering outside the company’s AGM to demand that its shareholders reject nuclear energy.
This is all part of Greenpeace’s campaign to extend the liability for a nuclear accident to include the suppliers of nuclear reactors and other materials so that these companies would have to pay some of the compensation needed as a result of the triple meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power.
On Wednesday, we will be at the TEPCO AGM demanding that it do more to investigate ways to make GE, Hitachi and Toshiba help pay the costs of the terrible Fukushima disaster.
Instead of these nuclear gamblers continuing to make reckless bets around the world, it’s time for them to cash their chips and play a cleaner, safer, and more sustainable game - renewables.
If you’d like to send a message to General Electric, Hitachi and Toshiba telling them to honour their responsibilities to the people of Fukushima, please sign our petition
[Images © Masaya Noda / Greenpeace]