1 September 2011

Deconstructing the zero-risk mindset: The lessons and future responsibilities for a post-Fukushima nuclear Japan

Tatsujiro Suzuki

Suzuki is the vice chairman of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) and a member of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and...

Months after the accident unfolded at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, the nuclear crisis continues. Though the worst, it seems, has passed, many technical, social, legal, and economic hurdles must be overcome. Major short-term challenges include stabilizing the reactors and managing more than 100,000 tons of contaminated water, as well as cleaning up the site, which still contains a large amount of contaminated debris from the accident. Long-term challenges include dealing with spent fuel in the storage pools and damaged fuel in the reactors, as well as decommissioning the reactors. In a 670-page report to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Japanese government explored its next steps in managing the crisis. In this article, the author revisits the tragedy at the nuclear station and highlights a few of the most pressing—and most challenging—of the government’s plans. The author writes that Fukushima should contain lessons not just for Japan but for all 31 countries with nuclear power.