Akahata "Current" column, September 27

Is a dream of peaceful use of nuclear energy realized?

More than 40 years ago, for the purpose of promoting a peaceful use of atomic energy, a special aide to U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower promised to the Americans a rosy future.

The world that atomic energy will bring about, according to him, was a clean society where there is neither disease nor hunger. The air is clean, and the word "dirty" will die out. Everything will be operated by pushing buttons, and factories need no overseers. Such a picture is common in science fiction, comics and movies, but a U.S. high official stated it in earnest.

Before long, the gap between the dream and reality, the light and shadow, of atomic energy, became clear to everybody.

Particularly after the two major nuclear power plant accidents, at U.S. Three-Mile Island in 1979 and at Chernobyl in the former Soviet Union in 1986, the myth that nuclear energy is safe has collapsed.

In Japan, the series of cover-up of defects in nuclear reactors reveal the secrecy surrounding nuclear power generation. So far, five out of ten electric power companies involved in nuclear reactor operations allegedly kept defects secret. Some reported to the government that there was no problem knowing that there were defects. Some left defects as they were without making any report, and others carry out sloppy inspections in which fatal flaws were overlooked.

According to the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), failure to report to the government can be traced back to 1986 when the detection of a crack in a shroud during a checkup was not reported to the government. In 1986 there was the Chernobyl accident. Since then, TEPCO made many cover-ups of defects which it has had to acknowledge to be "inappropriate."

In this we see a sinister contempt for humanity, in that the dangerous situation was shielded from the people, even after the nightmarish severe accident.

Such ways will not be able to win support even from those who see nuclear energy as the hope for the future. (end)