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The second Fall of Bataan?

March 15, 2019


ALL quiet on the Bataan nuke plant front. But, one never knows when our protean proud and profane Prez may just say gogogo! — given the pro-operation, full-court press of Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi. I do not question the bona fides of anyone; all mean well, but I remain concerned about a possible second Fall of Bataan.

Last Sunday’s Washington Post (thank you, Fil-Am lawyer Chuck Medel) reported on relevant prudential considerations, leading with: “As Japan’s leader, Junichiro Koizumi backed nuclear power. Now he’s a major foe.” Chuck and I went to Wyoming to look at the Balangiga Bells, an issue on which the Prez and I were on the same page. I hope my luck extends to nuke power (on which, more below). We never will, on human rights, sadly. And not on China, either.

Our wala-naman-tayong-laban Prez should realize that while China is a dangerous enemy, it is perhaps more dangerous as a friend, to borrow from Georges Clemenceau, who also said that America has miraculously gone from barbarism to decadence without the usual interval of civilization. I would have thought we had two years, 1986 to 1987, as our one brief shining moment as a people.

Next time Digong shakes hands with Xi, he should count his fingers afterwards, while recalling Mactan, Tirad Pass, Bataan and Bessang Pass. Better to die on one’s feet than live in shame on bended knees. Why can’t we be like the Cubans and Somalis that the Kanos couldn’t defeat? Or the Vietnamese whom the French, Kanos and Chinese couldn’t, either? It’s all about puso.

On public morality, Manong Emil Jurado wrote last Tuesday: “I have been a journalist for a long time and I have never seen as many immoral leaders as I do now.” He has been around for almost a century (or two? he sounds that wise). Digong’s ratings soar, which may indicate how low we have fallen. E.g., what he says about women and the clergy, as meyor OK lang, di po bagay kung pangulo (with daughter Sara pronouncing that dishonesty is the better policy).

Anyway, back to the nuke plant and the Washington Post report:

“Koizumi has come out of retirement to join a battle against the entrenched business and political interests he had tangled with in the past. [His] new simple catch phrase: `Zero nuclear power.’

“Eight years after the March 11, 2011, nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, [he] is back in the spotlight, trying to harness the public’s growing distrust of such power and rid his country of an industry he once promoted as prime minister from 2001 to 2006.

“A February 2018 poll by Japan’s Asahi Shimbun newspaper found 61 percent of respondents against the nation’s nuclear plants being restarted and 27 percent in support. `Momentum is building,’ he said. `It’s only a matter of time.’ [He] says he has learned from his mistakes. But Japan’s establishment remains firmly behind nuclear plants, even as other critics often point out the dangers posed by Japan’s quakes and tsunamis, a word Japan gave the world. `[W]e can turn crisis into opportunity. We can manage ourselves with renewables,’ he said. `Take Germany, for example. They saw the disaster in Japan and changed their energy policy…[Japan and Germany are major leaguers, we, salimpusa. – RAVS]

“Japan shut down all of its 54 reactors after Fukushima. Explosions in three reactors sent a cloud of radioactive dust across vast swaths of northeastern Japan and forced 165,000 people to flee their homes. But since Shinzo Abe was reelected prime minister in 2012, his government has been on a mission to get the nuclear power industry back on its feet. Nine reactors have already been restarted, six more applications to restart have been approved by a new, nominally independent Nuclear Regulation Authority, and the government wants nuclear power to contribute 20 percent to 22 percent of the nation’s energy by 2030. Japan’s nuclear agency and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) say safety standards have been significantly tightened. The aim, said Daisuke Matsuno, director of METI’s nuclear energy policy planning division, is to make the industry ‘the world’s safest.’ At the same time, it is dangerous to think you can achieve zero risk. ‘Overconfidence is dangerous. Indeed, overconfidence was Japan’s downfall.’

“A damning report by an independent parliamentary panel in 2012 concluded that the Fukushima disaster was ‘profoundly man-made,’ caused by a disregard of the risks of earthquakes by an industry determined to preserve the illusion that nuclear power was absolutely safe. Instead of supervising the industry, METI colluded with it, the report said. It said the risks were downplayed in a culture of ‘reflexive obedience’ and a ‘reluctance to question authority.’ (The regulator captured by the regulated, so, what else is new? – RAVS)

“A million tons of contaminated water must be stored, possibly for years, at Japan’s Fukushima power plant. METI and Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), its operator, should have been profoundly embarrassed by those conclusions, Koizumi said, but instead appears unfazed. ‘I am stunned. I think they are crazy. Everyone at METI and Tepco are all smart. They all did well in school. Still they don’t get it, they don’t get how this is costing so much money and is so risky,’ he added. So why are elected politicians so determined to press ahead? The answer, [he] asserted, lies in those same vested interests he has spent the best part of his career fighting. Building nuclear power plants is hugely expensive and involves large swaths of industry, which in turn supports the ruling party, [he] said. Labor unions eyeing jobs from nuclear power support the opposition parties, most of whom had backed nuclear power in the past.

“‘Nuclear power is behind both sides,’ he said. Since 2011, the opposition has swung into the antinuclear camp. But Koizumi has found his own Liberal Democratic Party — also the party of Abe — harder to sway. So much money has also been invested in the industry that there is a reluctance to write investments off. But [he] says nuclear power is neither economic nor necessary. The country, he noted, survived without it for two years without a single blackout.

“[His] journey to the ‘zero nuclear’ camp began on the day the Fukushima plant ruptured. In retirement, he has devoured books on the subject, and has come to the belief that the world had next to no provisions to safely store nuclear waste.

“Public pressure and litigation in Japan have delayed or prevented several plants from restarting, but critics say risks from earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are still being systematically downplayed…[He] says he has told Abe to embrace renewable energy. ‘If Japan went in that direction, the world would look at us differently, with more respect,’ he said. ‘We can become a model.’

“Other voices of criticism struggle to be heard. Shigeaki Koga, an energy industry expert, says his career was sidelined at METI after he expressed doubts about the safety of nuclear power; he was ultimately forced to resign but has since emerged as a leading public critic. Kunihiko Shimazaki, one of Japan’s leading seismologists, warned of the risks of earthquakes and tsunamis along the country’s northeast coast for years before the disaster struck, but his reports were generally ignored or buried. After March 2011, he served for two years with the nuclear regulator, and spoke out forcefully, but his term was not renewed. For now, Koizumi is leading the charge and trying to appeal directly to the Japanese people…As someone who believes he was deceived by the nuclear power lobby during his time as prime minister, he sees it as his duty.

“Just as Confucius said, for someone not to correct themselves after making a mistake – that is a true mistake.”

Digong should make certain midterm course corrections, on many fronts. Napapanahon nang maging Pangulo, di na po meyor lang. Friar lands talk would be useless in Bataan (where the Catholic Church has prudently scrapped funeral mass fees, per this paper yesterday: moot, if the Weapon of Mass Destruction that is the nuke plant melts down, in a country where administration Senate bets, again, are said to believe that dishonesty is the better policy.

Values meltdown.

Credit belongs to : www.manilatimes.net


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