May 6, 2015
The Worsening Situation in Fukushima
Former Japanese Ambassador to Switzerland
Since early April, a soaring level of radiation has been reported in some parts of Fukushima. The
weekly magazine “Playboy” (dated May 4, 2015) carried a shocking
four-page article with photos and such subtitles as: “Melting out of
nuclear fuel”; “Horrors of critical chain reactions at the depths of
the earth”; “Steam gushing out of Unit 3”; and “Rising of the
temperature of the spent fuel pool water at Unit 2”.
This article alarms us by pointing out that the Japan Atomic Energy
Agency has detected materials that suggest re-criticality at Fukushima
Daiichi. It also tells us that, since the beginning of this year, we
notice an increase in the amount of Cesium 134 and tritium that show
the recurrence of a nuclear fission reaction.
The article warns us that if critical chain reactions at the depths of
the earth happen to the debris of Fukushima Daiichi, the mass of which
is extraordinarily voluminous, it will lead to a gigantic nuclear
disaster of global scale.
On April 21th?Tepco announced that contaminated rain water had leaked
into the sea due to the failure of the pumping system. The president of
a subcontracting company contacted me to convey his anger over this
incident, stressing the following points:
1. The incident is attributed to power failure, but, instead of
carrying out verification every three hours as required by the rules,
nothing was done for 20 hours. This is totally unpardonable. It was a
telephone call he received from a relevant fisherman that helped to
discover the incident.
2. Tepco lacks qualified staff to work out a solution on the site. So
many blunders committed by Tepco followed by repeated apologies justify
the joke that Tepco had better produce apologizing robots.
3. In the new energy policy recently announced, the cost of nuclear
power generation is presented as 10.1 yen/KW, a number universally
considered as a huge lie. It mocks the whole population.
4. My plea for installing dust sampling gauges to cope with internal
radiation problems made immediately after the 3/11 accident remains
Under such circumstances, I have established contact with authorities
in Fukushima Prefecture. On April 22nd, they informed me that the
instruments for measuring radioactivity (77 in all) were out of order
and would be replaced in due course. They told me that they have
stopped publishing the radioactivity-related numbers on the homepage of
the Nuclear Regulatory Authority.
On May 6th, I asked them for their comments on the above-mentioned
article in “ Playboy”. They do not deny the dangers pointed out by the
article, but, unless they take concrete steps like removing the nuclear
fuel, they think there will not be any increased dangers under present
The foregoing should be regarded as a serious warning against an
eventual severe nuclear accident. On individual, regional and national
levels, serious efforts are needed to improve the situation.
The Tokyo Olympic Games give the false impression that Fukushima is
under control. The fact is, however, that the situation in Fukushima is
worsening. Japan is, alas, damaging the global environment with
never-ending radioactive contamination.
Japan should devote maximum efforts to bring Fukushima under control, mobilizing human wisdom on the widest possible scale.