Why the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster is a Man-made Calamity

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Abstract

The Fukushima nuclear disaster caused by the earthquake on 11 March 2011 is a man-made calamity because technological failures were derived from the failure of multiple social safeguards. The insufficient social safeguards can be explained by highlighting the “nuclear complex.” Institutional frameworks assured the enormous economic power of electric power companies and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI). Using this power, the electric power companies effectively manipulated information, maintained strong political power and constructed the nuclear complex, which has imposed an overwhelming influence on the central sphere of control at a national level and has put economic profit before safety. Regulations for safety have not been insufficient because the organization charged with nuclear safety belongs to the nuclear complex. Consequently, Regulatory Guides concerning reactors defined by the government have not accounted for catastrophic accidents. Philosopher Mori Arimasa's concept of "binary combination" provides us with an insight into a profound sociological reason for the Fukushima nuclear disaster because it highlights the immaturity of subjectivity and the root of irresponsibility in Japanese society. Binary combination is defined as a relationship between two persons that is characterized by intimacy and a vertical relation. Binary combination tends to produce a group or organization that is closed to outsiders and often shows indifference as well as insensitivity to outside opinions. In order overcome the defects of energy policy as well as the decision-making process, and to achieve a sustainable society, it is necessary to promote an energy paradigm shift and reforms for decision-making through the enrichment of the public sphere.

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