12th email from Japan – Nuclear Debate after FUKUSHIMA
Dear Friends of GLOBIS & KIBOW,
I personally visited Fukushima 3 times after the accidents and I met a chief of a village, a mayor of a city, and families who had evacuated from the village and the city near FUKUSHIMA Power Plants. We held KIBOW Fukushima on August 3rd. to share KIBOW (Hope) with the leaders in Fukushima. I am feeling that the situation in Fukushima is clearly getting better day by day.
Fukushima Nuclear Power Reactors have successfully been stabilized with the automatic cooling system furnished and, subsequently, the radiation level in Fukushima has drastically been reduced. The Japanese government will start allowing residents to go back to their homes near the plants, step by step. As far as we know, nobody has been exposed to strong radiation, and it is said that nobody will die due to the radiation from the reactors.
However, the mood of the public had been negative towards Nuclear partially because of Prime Minister Kan’s attitude against Nuclear Energy, and partially because of strong anti-nuclear activists who scared people by emphasizing fear too much without objective scientific data and studies. Very few politicians or leaders were voicing their opinion as they were afraid of losing the electoral votes so that politicians tend to become “Populist” taming to the public opinion instead of shaping the opinion.
The mood was so unbalanced that, if you assert pro-nuclear opinion in public, you would be criticized bitterly by general public and mass media
I would not complain anything if people discussed much enough and reached some decision. But it was not the case. Thoughtless policy change to retreat from nuclear energy and depend heavily on renewable energy like wind and solar would do harm to the economy of Japan. Germany may be able to do it, simply because they have vast natural resources of coal and they also can buy electricity from France. In case of Japan, we import 100% of oil, coal, and LNG, and we cannot buy electricity from other countries, as we are isolated by the sea.
The most active advocate against nuclear energy was Mr. Masayoshi Son, Founder and CEO of SoftBank who announced Mega Solar Project concept early May. What he did first was to meet political leaders like Prime Minister Kan and 36 governors of prefectures. He was a powerful leader with more than 1 million followers on Twitter, by far the largest in Japan.
Mr. Son’s attitude looked insincere to me because he approached politicians to take advantage of his political power and stressed nuclear energy’s dangerousness too much to Japanese public thereby directing toward his business interest of renewable energy. On twitter, I criticized him and he tried to label me as “Pro-Nuclear Activist.” Then, he proposed to me one-on-one public debate without setting time limit on the length of discussions.
On August 5th, for three hours and a half non-stop since 8:00pm to 11:30pm, Mr. Son and I debated on Japan’s energy policy in front of over 300 audiences and millions of internet audiences. This was a historical event in Japan, as the public was so divided on nuclear policy and two prominent entrepreneurs discussed openly televised “Live” over the internet.
I said, “I am completely positive on renewable, but we need nuclear to ensure the stable and reliable energy supply, which is most important for us to rebuild and transform Japan” at the beginning. Mr. Son’s objections were harsh.
The following English articles and blog explain to you how it was.
I am sure that the debate gave some influence on Japan’s future course. Some of anti-nuclear people changed their mind after the debate and some of pro-nuclear people who had been hesitant to express their opinion definitely started to voice it loud in public. In fact, Jiji Press poll that carried out just after the debate revealed that Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan's proposal to create a society not reliant on nuclear power was NOT supported by 47.7 % of the public, exceeding the 40.2 % who backed the idea. So it was a great success for me.
I have written a blog on this.
We seem to have another Prime Minister again. This is going to be the 5th after Koizumi stepped down in September 2006. One PM per year. This time, however, I am so happy to see Mr. Kan leaves. I think Mr. Kan had been the worst prime minister of Japan after the World War II. After Mr. Kan steps down, and as Mr. Son became quieter after the debate, I predict that Japan will restore nuclear power supply gradually with cautious communication with the public and with the safety insured. This is what we need for the future of Japan.
In the meantime, I have started to write opinions on the blog titled, “100 Actions creating a Vision of Japan”. I have already put up 3 columns in English. I hope you would take a look. The objective is clear. I wanted to draw a bright vision of Japan by coming up with 100 necessary actions to be taken by the people. I strongly believe that “vision” is the most important element of all. If there is a bright vision, people would love to work toward that no matter how hard the path may be. So far no bright vision has been drawn nor communicated by political leaders, so I have decided to do it myself.
By the way, we are holding the very first G1 Global Conference in Tokyo on November 3rd. This is a conference with 100% English language where leaders of the world get together. Whenever I see my friends overseas, they seem to be looking for opportunities to visit Japan. This G1 Global will give you the good “excuse” to visit Japan. If you come, I will arrange a trip to see the devastated area up north. The site would change your whole perspective on things. I have visited all the cities, towns and villages devastated by Tsunami on 311. I will keep on committing myself to rebuilding Japan.
Further, KIBOW donation is open until September 11th, (coincident that 911 falls exactly 6 months from 311). So far over US$1million has been raised with GLOBIS committing over US$200,000.- Small amount of donation is also welcome. You can use PayPal to donate in US currencies. It is easy, so please take a look. We will use them to educate leaders in the region. Thank you all for your thoughtful collaboration.
GLOBIS & Project KIBOW Donation for the Earthquake
I will be traveling to Australia, KL-Malaysia, Dalian-China, Abu Dhabi, and Seoul, Hong Kong as a speaker of conferences back and forth from Japan untill November. I hope to see some of you there or, at G1 Global Conference in Tokyo on November 3rd.
All the best, my friend, and I look forward to seeing you all, soon again, somewhere in the world.
Leader of GLOBIS & KIBOW