On March 11, 2011, Japan was struck by the magnitude 9.0 Tohoku earthquake. The massive undersea jolt triggered an equally enormous tsunami that washed several kilometers inland, cutting a swathe of destruction along the north- east coast of Honshu, Japan’s main island.
The country is no stranger to natural disasters but the strength of the Tohoku quake took everyone by surprise. This included Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the operators of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.
While it is still not clear just how much damage the crisis did to the plant – due mainly to a lack of official disclosure – the overall impact is certainly on a par with Chernobyl. We do know, however, that the accident was entirely preventable; a fact exposed in stark detail by an independent Japanese government report.
Mainly we seem to have a huge dose of blind luck and the self-sacrifice (literally) of the containment teams to thank for preventing a major catastrophe. When this realization gradually penetrated public awareness, it triggered a large and surprisingly vocal anti-nuclear campaign.
Even normally apolitical citizens took to the streets, creating Japan’s largest-ever series of protests. Just as surprisingly, the government listened and for a time shut down all 50-plus nuclear plants across the country.
Fresh Currents: a renewable future
Obviously the above is a greatly simplified version of a pivotal time in Japan’s history but as things now stand, the government has voted to abolish the use of nuclear power stations by 2030. But if not nuclear, then what?
As anyone who has ever tried to kick a habit knows, if you don’t have something better to go to, chances are you’ll just end up drifting back to the status quo. Which is something top politicians are already showing signs of doing.
This is where Fresh Currents comes in. Put together by the award-winning team at Kyoto Journal, Fresh Currents is a 160 page special publication examining a path forward from the Fukushima nuclear disaster to a renewable energy future – for both Japan and the rest of the world.
Topics covered range from the history of Japan’s nuclear industry, to media control and the involvement of yakuza gangs, to of course the possibilities for a renewable future; providing a total of over 30 highly illuminating articles.
You can download a PDF of Fresh Currents totally free from its Web site (links below), which also has excerpts from the magazine and various other articles. Print versions should be available in the near future. These will be sent to policymakers, schools, environmental groups and journalists but will also be available for purchase at a nominal charge.
If you know of anyone who might benefit from a copy, Kyoto Journal would like to hear from you.
Other details and resources
Home page of the Fresh Currents Web site
Direct link for downloading Fresh Currents magazine