Why Did Japan Use Nuclear Power After Experiencing The Atomic Bomb?
The Globe and Mail asks an interesting question.
Japan’s 55 reactors produce nearly 30 per cent of the country’s electricity, and the long-term strategy before the Fukushima disaster was to push that figure to 50 per cent by 2030. Almost alone among its political allies, whose ambitions were reined in by the catastrophes at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, the land that experienced the atomic bomb has chosen to expand its network of nuclear plants, many of them knowingly built in seismic zones.
But why? For one thing, after the oil crisis of 1973, oil prices doubled, and without any natural oil or gas Japan needed affordable alternatives. But there’s more:
The spectre of Hiroshima and Nagasaki haunts nuclear energy’s doubters, and the survivors of the bombings – known as hibakusha – have been prominent in campaigns against nuclear expansion. And yet their influence is more limited than non-Japanese might think. Information about the bombings was suppressed during the years of the American occupation of Japan (1945-52), and survivors of the blasts – sickly, disfigured and impoverished – often found themselves shunned by the rest of Japanese society.
Meanwhile, a Japanese civil nuclear program was launched in the early 1950s, supported by the Americans and building on the legacy of wartime scientific research. Nuclear energy, shedding its dark past, was now idealized as an instrument of peace and order. With information about the atomic bombings being suppressed, and with radiation victims forced to the margins, it was possible to make a case for the beneficial side of nuclear power in the country that had suffered its worst effects.
“The political and corporate elite constructed the infrastructure of Japan’s nuclear power project before the Japanese public even understood what had happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” says Michele Mason, who teaches Japanese culture at the University of Maryland.Click here for reuse options!
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