The Japan syndrome

If any country has a right to fear the hazards of nuclear energy, Japan would be it. The Land of the Rising Sun is the only nation to have experienced the destructiveness of a nuclear weapon. It is also seismically active, giving environmentalists added fuel for opposing nuclear power plants, says Investor's Business Daily (IBD).


  • Japan has no fewer than 55 reactors that generate a third of the country's electricity; that makes it the third largest nuclear power producer in the world.

  • The nuclear facility at Kashiwazaki Kariwa situated on the Sea of Japan northwest of Tokyo, is the world's largest in terms of electrical output; it has seven reactors with a generating capacity of 8,212 megawatts.

    Kashiwazaki Kariwa is a mere 9.8 miles from the epicenter of a 6.8-magnitude quake that hit Niigata prefecture on July 16. On the surface, it looked like another Three Mile Island – and more proof that nuclear power is dangerous. Except that nothing much happened at Three Mile Island and nothing much happened at Kashiwazaki Kariwa, says IBD.

    A six-member team assembled by the United Nation's International Atomic Energy Agency and led by Philippe Jamet, director of the IAEA's installation nuclear safety division, conducted a three-day examination of the facility earlier this month.

    The IAEA team concluded that even in the face of a quake in which the vibration was three times the maximum assumed in the plant's design, plant safety features performed as required and radioactivity released was well below authorised limits for public health and environmental safety.

    Source: Editorial, The China Japan Syndrome, Investor's Business Daily, August 29, 2007.

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    FMF Policy Bulletin/ 04 September 2007
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