Three Interviews: Demonstrations against Nuclear Power Plants

Officer at international association of nuclear power plant

At the beginning of the interview, the officer asked the detailed objective of this interview, and made it sure that I won’t record the conversation, disclose his name or the name of his company, as his comment can be considered as representation of his company but not his personal idea, and it can be critical to his organization.

What the officer concerned the most about the demonstrations against nuclear power plants after Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011 was caused by emotions and very radical like “all or nothing” without consideration of transformation from current situation to ideal future. First of all, he said, people need to anticipate ramification of closing nuclear power plants suddenly. There are people who are working for nuclear power plants. Form their viewpoint, they must feel like a solider to the battle field; being sent to fight for the country but being criticized for killing human after the war. And also, it would cause loss of 30 billion dollars. How could we compensate for the loss? Thus, people should step back and have sense of ownership like what he would do if they were “CEO of the country”, but not just criticizing the country.

The officer states that citizens need to cultivate sense of ownership about any social problem to avoid radical decision making based of emotions when incidents happen. To achieve this, there should be more opportunity to discuss, ponder and form their own opinions. The officer wish people have a sense to make a right decision on the technology as he believes that technology is neither good nor bad itself. Radiation can hurt people but cure cancer. We are the ones who turn technology into either good or bad.


Director of TV program covering demonstration against nuclear power plant

The director went to the site of the demonstrations in Tokyo and interviewed mainly people in their 20’s and 30’s. Some left Tokyo to cities further away from Fukushima with yelling that they won’t eat any food from Fukushima as they can harm their health and their children’s. The director couldn’t help feeling that they are self-centered as they considered only about themselves but not residents in Fukushima, who know that they depended on the plants in terms of job, and subsidy from the central government. Actually, the director heard from a peach farmer that she was encouraged by the demonstrations as they are enthusiastic about this matter. On the other hand, however, she was hurt to hear their voices such as “vegetables in Fukushima are contaminated”, “people can no longer live in Fukushima”.

In the demonstrations, the director met another type of people, whose motivations to join the demonstrations are very vague. Many of them are in uneasy condition in their own life for job-hunting, entrance exams to a university, recluse and so on. They got interest in the demonstrations to find what drives their motivation on something, and actually were included in the activities. The director was also moved by the heated atmosphere and believed that the nuclear plants should be shut down as soon as possible back then. After a while, however, the director feel that such a frenzy would not be able to change the society.

The director states that the reason why some people became emotional and went to extreme is because they did not have knowledge enough to analyze the situation, so that they were readily affected by loud voices. Thus, the director proposes that junior high schools and high should offer opportunities for students to have debates on this matter to motivate them to ponder by themselves. The director also insists that media companies should describe more details of the demonstrations, as coming to the on-site just to film the visual situation without detailed research, or superficial comments deriving from uncertainty of facts results in nothing.


Teacher at elementary school in Gumma, prefecture adjacent to Fukushima

The teacher taught sixth grade students a topic regarding nuclear power plants in a science class. Students were divided into small groups, and each group research on both advantage and disadvantage of one energy source assigned to them, such as nuclear power, hydropower, solar power, thermal power and so on, through several media. The most positive impression on them was solar power. The teacher thinks this derives from that fact the students are familiar with it as a third of the students’ houses have solar panel on the roofs. On the other hand, nuclear power was not popular because they see vegetables from Fukushima priced cheaper than from other areas.

The teacher said that there is no change in education on nuclear power after the disaster. It is about science but not social. Even the teacher thought that the most people who joined demonstrations are victims suffering from the disaster, with saying that the disinterest in the matter is because it seems like what happened in a place far away even from Gumma.

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