Tokyo, Japan – Greenpeace Japan released the following statement on the 11th anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake and the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station accident.
Sam Annesley, Executive Director of Greenpeace Japan:
“11 years have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake and Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station accident that caused incredible damage. We offer our deepest condolences to those who tragically lost their lives and our sincere respect to those who, despite their deep sorrow, have persevered to this day. The example of the disaster-affected areas, which have continued moving towards recovery over the past 11 years despite the unprecedented crises of a major earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident, has given us great hope. However, as the memories of the disaster and accident fade, we are now faced with a serious problem that we must confront.
There are still 59 nuclear reactors in Japan including those that are permanently shutdown. As of the end of February 2022,10 of them have restarted operations(1). Recently, the Japanese government and electric power companies are actively promoting the notion that nuclear power plants are low carbon, and that they will be one of the key solutions to decarbonization.
However, nuclear power generation should never be a solution for decarbonization and climate change. While nuclear power plants can generate tremendous amounts of electricity, they also carry unfathomable risks. Such risks are not only limited to natural disasters and humanitarian crises such as Fukushima, but could also significantly escalate danger during conflicts, such as in the case of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant situation in Ukraine earlier this month(2).
Of the 10 nuclear reactors that have been restarted in Japan, only five have installed the equipment mandated under anti-terrorism measures to counter eventualities such as aircraft collisions. Even these reactors cannot be said to be 100% safe against the risk of future natural disasters and conflicts, as we experienced with the Fukushima accident.
The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident is still ongoing. There are many people in Japan who were forced to leave their homes at the wake of the disaster and who are still living as evacuees. There are more than 12,000 plaintiffs nationwide in class action lawsuits filed by evacuees seeking compensation from the government and TEPCO(3).
In addition, the Japanese government decided last year that it will release approximately 1.29 million tonnes of radioactively contaminated water currently stored in tanks on site in Fukushima into the ocean. Meanwhile, 150 tonnes of new radioactive water were being generated every day in 2021(4). The fundamental issue of decommissioning the Fukushima Daiichi remains unresolved even after 11 years, with no clear goal or plan of action(5).
After the nuclear disaster began, the Japanese government promoted coal-fired power generation as an alternative source of power, which only further accelerated the climate crisis. Now, the Japanese government once again is choosing the wrong option: trying to restart nuclear power plants to solve the climate crisis. Maintaining nuclear power generation for the purpose of decarbonization is nothing short of a deliberate act of self-imposed harm.
As a nation that has deeply suffered the devastation of both nuclear power plant accidents and nuclear bombs, we call on Japan to show global leadership by rejecting all forms of nuclear power generation, and to lead the world’s transition to a sustainable, renewable energy-driven future.”
(1) IAEA, Country nuclear power profiles: Japan
(5) Greenpeace report “Decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station From Plan-A to Plan-B Now, from Plan-B to Plan-C” (March 2021)
Mitsuhisa Kawase, Senior Communications Officer, Greenpeace Japan: [email protected], +81 (0)70-3195-4165
Greenpeace International Press Desk: [email protected], +31 (0) 20 718 2470 (available 24 hours)
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