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HOME  > Past issues  > 2016 October 19 - 25  > Present generation should not leave behind radioactive legacy
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2016 October 19 - 25 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Present generation should not leave behind radioactive legacy

October 19, 2016
Akahata ‘current’ column

“Can we really take responsibility for what, let’s say, the Cro-Magnons did?” “It is unlikely that Japan’s government will be able to keep fulfilling its commitment for more than 100,000 years. The current legal system in Japan is not designed to work for such a long period of time.” These are points made at a meeting of the Science Council of Japan’s committee on the future of nuclear power generation.

The meeting agenda was about the disposal of spent nuclear fuel. There is no public consensus on how deadly high-level radioactive waste should be disposed. It is said that the human race will have to keep an eye on radioactive waste disposal sites to ensure that radioactive materials will be safely kept inside for tens to hundreds of thousands years.

Such a super-long term is beyond people’s imagination. In the meeting, some said, “(In the future of 10,000-100,000 years from now) Japan may no longer exist. It is almost impossible to give a serious consideration to that ridiculously distant future.” Another said, “After tens of thousands of years, the human race as a species will not be the same and nations, languages, and societies will be completely transformed. We should think about our responsibility for the future of the earth.”

The problem of nuclear waste disposal is far from being solved. Yet, the Abe government and power companies are pushing forward with the reactivation of idled nuclear reactors in Japan. Do these pro-nuclear forces feel responsible for the radioactive legacy? They have never provided an explanation on this point to the public.

The restart of nuclear reactors means that they will produce ever more radioactive waste. Most Japanese people feel anxiety about the reactivation of nuclear reactors not only because of possible accidents at nuclear plants but also regarding the disposal of spent nuclear fuel.

In last week’s Niigata gubernatorial election, voters chose the candidate who pledged to oppose the resumption of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant in the prefecture. People in the rest of the country should work even harder to minimize the nuclear burden for the future generations. This is the responsibility of those who are living now.

Past related article:
> Science Council of Japan: utilities should prepare storage facilities for nuclear wastes [September 27 and 30, 2014]
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