Japan's Fukushima Nuclear Disaster: A General-Audience, Non-Technical Narrative with Analysis and Recommendations

Kenji Kushida, Takahashi Research Associate in Japanese Studies at Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center

RSVP Required by OCT 30

Over a year and a half has passed since the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster that began with the earthquake and tsunami disaster that hit Japan’s Tohoku region on March 11, 2011. Much has been written about the Fukushima nuclear disaster, but a cohesive, objective, readable English language narrative of what exactly transpired as the disaster unfolded has yet to widely circulated. An understanding of how events unfolded in the Fukushima disaster is critical to deriving valuable lessons about nuclear power governance, politics, and societal preparedness. As countries such as China, India, and Brazil move to build new nuclear reactors to serve the energy needs of ever increasing numbers of ever-wealthier populations, lessons from Japan’s experience will only increase in significance.

The talk focuses on a narrative of the chaotic political and corporate responses as events developed rapidly at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant. It also puts the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant in comparative perspective among the three other nuclear power plants hit by the tsunami. Many of the details are likely to come as a surprise even to a well-informed audience: the absence of the power operator’s president and chairman for almost a full day as the crisis unfolded; chaos magnified by the emergency nuclear response headquarters set up in the Prime Minister’s office initially unable to receive cell phone signals or faxes; the dozens of emergency backup battery trucks arriving at the plant only to discover they could not connect to the reactors in crisis, and the like. The talk is based on the following report: “Japan’s Fukushima Nuclear Disaster: Narrative, Analysis, and Recommendations".

Thursday, November 01, 2012 | 12:00 pm — 1:00 pm
Philippines Conference Room, Encina Hall, 3rd Floor

Shorenstein APARC