Apr 18, 2011
The Japanese government decided to set the evacuation zone at 12 miles around the Fukushima power plant after the incident there. That zone affects 70,000 people. The government advised the 130,000 people living up to 19 miles from the plant to stay at home. It said that staying in would be sufficient to avoid injury from the radiation, which it claimed was a low level amount.
However, the International Atomic Energy Agency said radiation rates from Fukushima would justify an evacuation zone of 25 miles from the plant. And the U.S. government recommended its citizens in Japan evacuate up to 50 miles from the nuclear power plant.
A month after the original disaster, the Japanese government finally announced it would include some villages and towns beyond the 12 miles as part of an evacuation zone, but added, “There is no need to evacuate immediately.”
Clearly the government is considering other factors than the health of the population. One big factor is that this region around Fukushima is highly industrialized. Electronic parts used in other industries around the world are made there.
These manufacturers suffered a considerable loss. The two-week stoppage at Hitachi factories, for example, led to partial shutdowns in Peugeot and GM factories elsewhere in the world. One estimate of the problems caused by a shortage of Japanese auto components suggests worldwide auto production could drop by 30%.
The Japanese authorities are choosing between the population’s health and the profits of the big industrial and financial companies. The Japanese population has every reason to be skeptical of the decisions their leaders make. It’s vital that the population itself exercise control over these decisions.