At the top of my Facebook news feed this morning there was a picture of two mutated peaches, allegedly affected by fallout from the Fukushima nuclear disaster over two years ago.
Since then Japan’s nuclear power plants, which used to supply 30% of the nation’s energy, have been closed for “safety review.” Now the government has issued new regulations clearing the way for nuclear plants to resume operation. Five power companies have already applied to restart 12 of the country’s 50 reactors.
Since the accident, Japan’s languishing economy has suffered further setbacks as it’s
been forced to rely on expensive, imported, and dirty fossil fuels. For the past six
months new prime minister Shinzo Abe has been pushing a big wave of business reforms, christened “Abenomics,” that have driven their stock market to a rally. Getting nuclear power back online was one of his stated goals.
But forgetting about Fukushima may not be so easy. The 157,000 former residents of the area are still displaced, living in temporary housing and without permanent compensation settlements. Persistent rumors about contamination of everything from fruit to tuna continue to run rampant on U.S. and Asian blogs. Greenpeace is running a campaign to try to make General Electric, Toshiba, and Hitachi, the manufacturers of the reactors, pay some kind of compensation for losses.