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Ryokichi HIRONO Seikei University, Tokyo



1. Introduction While EJGET and the Fukushima Nuclear Power plant disasters have brought an unprecedented magnitude and diversity of sufferings to millions of people in the Tohoku Area of Japan, with spillover effects to its neighboring regions, it has provided precious lessons to the people at the community, district, regional (in-country) and national levels, AWAKENING TO THE DIRE NECESSITY OF BUILDING AN INTEGRATED SERIES OF SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES NOT ONLY IN THE DISASTER-AFFECTED TOHOKU AREA, BUT ALSO ACROSS JAPAN AND, IF NECESSARY, IN THE REST OF INCREASINGLY INTERDEPENDENT GLOBAL COMMUNITY. 2. The Concept of Sustainable Communities Sustainable communities are those towns and villages where people of all generations live in human dignity, governing themselves under the elected leadership and the rules and regulations set democratically by themselves (self-government) in all spheres of human activities as consumers, producers AND as citizens. Sustainable communities (SCs) are run by the representatives of their citizens with full participation in 1

community decision-making processes (participatory governance), enjoying both high-quality basic education for all (BEFA) along the lines of education for sustainable development (ESD), high-quality primary healthcare (PHC) and high-quality basic public services (BPS), ensured with a full range of social security programmes (SSP) for all the citizens with different needs and requirements. SCs give top priority to full employment of all working-age population willing and capable of working (self- and paid employment) whether in primary, secondary or tertiary sectors, meeting the highest standards of environmentally livable communities (environmental sustainability) resilient against natural disasters including earthquakes, typhoons and tsunami of unprecedented magnitude in the coming decades of increasing volatility of climate change, with a full respect for local culture and traditions (cultural sustainability), giving priority to the maximum use of locally available and produced materials (production sustainability or sustainable production) and based upon the patterns of diverse but sustainable lifestyles (consumption sustainability or sustainable consumption). SCs, however, are not individually isolated communities, but constitute part of wider district, regional and national communities in an integrated manner. Otherwise, SCs cannot survive in this day and age of globalization where the constituent countries have been moving toward an interdependent global community, reducing barriers to trade in goods and services as well as to people movement to reap the benefits of their respective comparative advantages, mainstream the global interests into their respective national development agenda and maintain world peace and stability, while minimizing the cost of globalization to SCs. 3. An Integrated Series of Sustainable Communities Sustainable communities must meet all the aspirations and requirements of all generations, gender and occupations of their own citizens. In view of the fact that all communities are confronted with the constraints of human, ecological, technological and financial resources, they must 2

keep their doors open to the rest of their districts, regions, countries and the global community in terms of the stock and flow of information, knowledge and other economic and ecological resources, while adhering to the everlasting maintenance and strengthening of their respective SCs for the benefits of all their citizens. For this reason, SCs must be prepared to identify their own comparative advantages not only in economic, but also ecological and cultural terms, and promote their own identities under increasingly interconnected communities and globalizing world. Based upon their own comparative advantages, each SC could offer their best to the neighboring communities so that they could maximize for their own citizens the benefits of all the communities available at the district, regional, national and international levels. In concrete terms, for instances, SC”A” with BEFA. PHC and BPS could combine their resources and come together with SC”B” and a few other neighboring communities to install drinking water, electricity, gas and other public utilities based upon their respective ecological characteristics, and provide technical and professional training institutions, community colleges and hospitals open to their respective citizens and others as well. Management of these institutions at the district or regional (sub-national) levels, however, must be in the hands of these cooperating SCs, AND NOT in the hands of, BUT supported technologically and financially by, the central or federal government. In this decentralized, local community management of all institutions for the benefits of the citizens of the participating SCs, it is vital to abide by the principles of maximizing both the efficiency in resource use, the effectiveness in achieving the objectives and goals set by these institutions, the impact of development intervention, the transparency and accountability of governing institutions to the tax payers and the participation of intended beneficiaries in planning, implementing, monitoring and evaluating these institutions. In order to enjoy the comparative advantages of those SCs and reduce 3

the risks associated with natural disasters affecting specific local communities, the physical infrastructure in all the SCs of power, transportation and communications grids must be inter-connected with neighboring districts and regions and in the rest of the country, but such services should be open to all service providers, public or private, on a competitive basis. All the citizens of these SCs will thus have choice of access among all these services so as to reduce not only the cost of such services essential to daily living but also the degree of risks associated with disasters among service providers. 4. Lessons Learnt on Monopoly Power Supplies from TEPCO’s Nuclear Power Plant Disaster The current policy and practice by the Japanese government of giving monopoly rights to only one power company in each region of the nine regions of the country, e.g., Tokyo Electric Power Company, Ltd. (TEPCO) in the Kanto/South Tohoku Region, or Tohoku Electric Power Company, Ltd. (TOPCO) in the rest of the Tohoku Region and the like, in both production and distribution of power supplies must come to an end. The current system of monopoly production and distribution by TEPCO and 8 other authorized regional power producers has led to one of the world’s highest before-tax electricity prices prevailing in Japan. Government must revamp their current policy and compel these monopoly companies to purchase and distribute any amount of power generated by any industrial companies and households directly to any users, household, industrial and commercial, by using the their distribution grid at prescribed user charges that apply to the monopoly power companies, too. While it is true that even under the current system household and industrial companies could produce power, they have no choice except to sell it to the monopoly power company which owns and controls the power distribution grid and the monopolistic company is now authorized to buy or not to buy such power and, if decided to buy, only at prices set by the said company (in effect, by charging high user fees). In the case of renewable energy supply, there is one exception in that all 4

the industrial companies generating wind power and other renewable energies and all the households generating solar power with photovoltaic equipment are authorized to sell to the power monopoly at prescribed prices per kwh often with further incentives given by local governments to encourage their citizens to use renewable energy, but even under this system it is up to the monopoly company to buy in case it is needed. This type of feed-in-tariff system must be corrected as soon as possible. It is vital therefore that the monopoly power company such as TEPCO which owns and operates the distribution grid in the Kanto/South Tohoku Region ether is brought under obligation to purchase power generated by all industrial and household producers at predetermined fair prices per kwh or open the grid to all power producers at predetermined fair user charges, with a new power distribution system installed so that final users of electricity have choices to buy either from the power monopoly or other new power producers. Recognizing the fact that in the aftermath of the Fukushima Nuclear Power plant disaster on 11th March, TEPCO’s power supply has been subjected to blackouts and planned restraints due to the foreseen imbalances between electricity demand and supply in the Kanto/South Tohoku Region, and given the understanding that the current monopoly system of power supplies is one of the major factors contributing to the high electricity prices prevailing in the country, the opening of power supplies to market competition both in terms of production and distribution is deemed essential in view of the growing public consensus and the changing government energy policy in favor of a planned phase-out of nuclear power and a steady installation of renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, geothermal power and bio-fuel, Under the new system of competitive power supply all over the country, cleaner electricity with less CO2 emission may be produced and distributed more efficiently by new competitors in the local communities, with consequent benefits flowing to all industrial, commercial and household users. 5. Lessons Learnt from the TEPCO’s, Local Government and Japanese 5

Government Responses to the Nuclear Power Plant Disaster in Fukushima Prefecture in 2011 An enormous amount and variety of precious lessons have been learnt from the TEPCO’s Fukushima Nuclear Power plant disaster and its aftermath consequences including TEPCO’s and Japanese government’s disaster management, the lack of preparedness at the community, district, regional and national levels and the policy and implementation coordination failures within and among these different levels of governments as well. In building SCs not only in the disaster-affected Tohoku Region but also in the rest of Japan, these lessons will be so instructive and innovative so that they may also be lessons in the rest of the world which may face, if not prepared, similar situations in the increasingly volatile conditions of climate change in the decades to come. 5.1 TEPCO’s Disaster Management Failures 1) Failure of the corporate management to decommission specifically the nuclear reactors of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant No.1 which were installed in the 1960s, long overdue in displacement or replacement; 2) Inadequate review of the old safety standards and equally inadequate monitoring of the technical and management dimensions of the said plant operation as well as the other plant operation elsewhere; 3) Wrong notion prevailing in the company that nuclear power plants are generally safe and sound, because of little adverse impact of the recent high-magnitude earthquake on its Kashiwazaki nuclear power plant in Niigata; 4) Lack of technical expertise available in the company to pin-down immediately the causes and effects of the nuclear plant explosion; 5) Failure of the corporate management to announce immediately after the incidence the plant explosion and its possible effects to the neighboring communities for fear that it should lead to insurmountable confusion in the affected and neighboring communities ; 6) Failure of the corporate management of full, exact and speedy 6

disclosure of information on a series of accidents that had taken place at the nuclear plants, No 1-No.4 as a result of the cut-off of external power supplies and the knock-out of the back-up emergency generators after the EJGET; 7) Failure of the corporate management to convey to the government the seriousness of the plant disaster and its possible effects on the neighboring communities, lest it should lead to government’s immediate decree on plant shutdown and is possible economic/financial cost to the company; 8) Failure of the corporate management to deal squarely and immediately with the plant explosion for the reason 4 above and its unwillingness to get help and support from the United States lest that it should lead to immediate plant shutdown; 9) Failure of the corporate management to publish immediately critical information on the nuclear reactor meltdown including the radiation survey map of the disaster-affected areas and neighboring communities prepared by the company published only a month later; 10) Failure of the corporate management to inform the people in the disaster-affected areas and neighboring communities of the corporate plan to lower the level of nuclear radiation at and around the plant, reduce the exposure of all those workers engaged in plant operation and all those people living in close proximity to radioactive materials such as iodine and cesium 134 and 137 and announce the corporate roadmap to the public at large in Japan and overseas on a series of steps intended to be taken by TEPCO to minimize the sense of uncertainty and, in some cases, agony associated with nuclear plant meltdown; 11) Failure of the corporate management to come to meet the people and political leadership in the disaster-affected areas and neighboring communities and the Fukushima Prefectural governor to express their deepest regret for the nuclear power plant disaster and its mismanagement and their intended plan for the full compensation for the economic and non-economic loss of the people adversely affected by the disaster; 12) Failure of the corporate management to appear on nationwide 7

television programme everyday to inform the public of the nature, causes and possible effects of the nuclear power plant disaster as well as the on-going activities in accordance with the corporate plan and programme to deal with the disaster to minimize its adverse impact and compensate for the economic and non-economic loss of the adversely affected people including those who left the disaster areas for survival; 13) Failure of the corporate management to have continuous dialogues with the people and political leadership in the adversely affected areas and neighboring communities on the company’s possible plans and programmes to assist the people in those districts to restore normal patterns of day-to-day living in the coming years and decades, if necessary; 5.2 Failures of the Local Government Disaster Management 1) Lack of preparedness in the local governments against the possible nuclear power plant disaster including the installation of sufficient number of radiation monitoring equipments at appropriate places, the assignment of monitoring personnel, based upon their own wrong impression that nuclear power plants are safe and sound; 2) No action taken until 15th March by the Fukushima Prefectural Governor for the immediate evacuation of the people in the adversely affected areas and neighboring communities to safe areas inside or outside their own districts/regions and for the appeal to local prefectural governors outside Fukushima to accommodate those evacuees, until appeals issued by the central government, because of political repercussions of such action on the question of their pre-disaster campaigns of installing nuclear power plant into their communities to offset their local government deficit spending; 3) Lack of technical and scientific expertise to advise village and town leadership, city mayors and prefectural governors on the spot on the drawing up of their respective action plans without losing time to minimize the adverse impact of the nuclear power plant explosion on the people and communities and their subsequent possible exposure to radiation; 8

4) Lack of local government initiatives to deal with such disasters due to their long-held sense of dependence on central government and their tendency to put the blame of their own misjudgment and mismanagement onto the central government leadership; 5) Personal dilemma of the majority of local community people to face their honest reflections to stand up and criticize both their own political leadership on their misleading roadmap and their own selves on their blind sheepish follow-ship and selfish motives of living beyond their means, both of which led to the installation of nuclear power plants and eventually their disasters, in spite of sharp grass-roots disagreements and opposition in their communities to the local government leadership decision to install such dangerous, life-threatening plants which incidentally has been repeated all over the country, with local police forces siding often with pro-nuclear leadership where nuclear power plants were installed; 6) Inadequate efforts on the part of local community people and leadership across the country to pressure the central government not only to beef up local tax revenue, e.g., through increasing the share of the local governments in the central government revenue sharing plan and increasing the share of the central government expenditures in the post-disaster renovations and development of local infrastructure from one-half to two-thirds and but also to give local governments a greater taxing authority to change their own community taxation policies so that they can install special levy on nuclear power plants in accordance with the amount of electricity generated or some other measures; 5.3 Failures of the Central Government Disaster Management 1) In spite of the past experiences of high-magnitude earthquakes and tsunami along the Tohoku Pacific coast, such as the Teikan Tsunami (M8.4) of 869 A.D., Hoei Earthquake/Tsunami of 1707 (M8.6), Meiji Earthquake/Tsunami of 1894 (8.2), Showa Earthquake/Tsunami in 1933 and 1978 (M7.4) and the East Hokkaido Earthquake of 1994 (M6.2), the Japanese government went ahead in building a series of nuclear power plants on the same coast line. There had also been an 9





inadequate lesson learning by the government from the equally high-magnitude earthquakes and tsunami along the Pacific coast of central Japan such as the Tokai Earthquake of 1953 (M8.2) and Hanshin Great Earthquake of 1995 (M7.3) in constructing a series of nuclear power plants along the earthquake-prone Pacific coast such as Hamanaka Nuclear Power plant in Shizuoka Prefectures; One of the foremost failures of the Japanese government disaster management lies in the inadequate pre-disaster review of the nuclear safety standards that should have reflected a growing concern of the population with the nuclear reactor meltdown at the 1979 Three Mile Island accident in the United States and the 1986 Chernobyl accident in Ukraine; The government, lacking of full understanding that nuclear reactors could be a weapon for mass destruction like any other nuclear, biological and chemical warheads. had not paid sufficient attention until the 3.11 incidence to the warnings by many nuclear scientists and engineers that the old nuclear reactors built and operated since some 30 years ago should be decommissioned as one of precautionary measures and that those nuclear power plants using the ageing reactors installed in the 1960s should be subjected to more frequent and rigorous inspection by the regulatory authorities than those plants equipped with newer types of reactors; It has been found irrational and counterproductive to have the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA), the nuclear regulatory mechanism, in the Ministry of Economy, Industry and Trade which has been promoting nuclear power generation with all kinds of subsidies to nuclear industry, power companies and to those local communities willing to accommodate the installation of nuclear power plants, thus resulting in the close cooperation and paternalistic relationship between monopoly power companies and NISA, with the former accommodating retired officials from NISA as their advisers and inspection staff, implying their nebulous relationship minimizing effective regulation of the former by the latter; It is not surprising that recent findings of the TEPCO Nuclear Power Plant Accident Investigation Team appointed by the Office of the 10

Prime Minister show that there had been a long practice by NISA to hide from public disclosure any information inconvenient to NISA and monopoly power companies promoting nuclear power generation, e.g., NISA’s and TEPCO’s joint finding in 2008 that there could be a high-magnitude earthquake and tsunami hitting along the Tohoku Pacific coast in a few years; 6) Although the Office of Emergency Disaster Response (OEDR) was established immediately following the nuclear power plant explosion on 11th March, repeated delays were observed, due to the lack of nuclear disaster preparedness, in issuing the government evacuation order to the people in the affected areas, with the first order delivered only on the following day to those residing within 3 kilometers diameter, later extended to those within 6 km and then within 10 km and once again to those residing within the radius of 20 km from the site of the accident, thus throwing people in the affected areas into confusion. Triggered by a series of hydrogen explosion at the nuclear power plants on 14th March and some European and U.S. government evacuation recommendation to their citizens living in Kanto area, particularly within the radius of 80 km from the disaster site, the government of Japan (GoJ) issued the “stay-indoor” order to those some 167,000 people residing with the radius of 20-30 km from the accident site, for the time and a month later extended to those living within the 30-40 km radius to be prepared to evacuate anytime when announced officially by GoJ; 7) While the mobilization immediately after the Earthquake/Tsunami disaster of the Japan Self-Defense Forces, National Firefighting Brigade, National Police Agency and central government bureaucracy to ensure speedy rescue of those people in the Earthquake/Tsunami areas and neighboring communities, to prevent traffic congestion on major turnpikes and highways and to ascertain airspace safety over the affected areas, the same or similar response measures were not taken to help those in the nuclear disaster areas, basically because of the lack of national nuclear disaster emergency plan; 8) There should have been no refusal of international assistance on 11

nuclear power plant disaster, but it was only after a series of mass criticism and protests against the government decline of immediate assistance by the U.S. and other governments to deal with the nuclear disaster on the basis of TEPCO’s recommendations, the Joint Japan-U.S. Task Force was established on 15th March to arrest and prepare for the meltdown of those power plants and contain its unforeseen impact on the health of those people at the accident site and its neighboring communities; 9) It was only on 30th March when the GoJ announced the prohibition of shipments of certain vegetable and marine products in Fukushima and neighboring prefectures, reinforcing the sense of uncertainty and distrust among the population not only in Japan but also overseas with the GoJ’s capability and readiness to deal with the nuclear accident which were compounded later by the revelation of TEPCO’s and NISA’s jointly orchestrated inadequate disclosure at various stages of those findings regarding the nuclear power plant disaster for feat that it might raise further not only the sense of insecurity but also opposition to nuclear power among the people; 10) Belated establishment on 9th April of the National Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Council for East Japan Great Earthquake/ Tsunami under the Office of the Prime Minister to draft by end June an overall reconstruction plan and programmes with budgetary implications both to revenue and expenditures to deal with the EJGET and the accompanying TEPCO’s nuclear power plant disaster, including the installation of the Disaster Relief and Reconstruction Fund and National Reconstruction Bond issue. 11) Belated action to install as many monitoring stations and devices as possible on nuclear radiation not only in the directly affected areas but also in different parts of the neighboring prefectures, subsequent to the discover of radioactive tea leaves in portions of Kanagawa Prefecture and consequent prohibition of the shipments of such tea leaves and other farm produces whose radiation level has exceeded respective national standards; 12) Belated announcements on 21st May of the government plan to let the evacuees housed at temporary evacuation centers and elsewhere 12

to return to their homes located with the radius of 3-20 km from the disaster site initially for a limited time period and later for an extended period; 13) Strong doubts and protests by the people over a number of government announcements that have downplayed the serious impact of the exposure of people, particularly workforce at the nuclear power plants and children in the affected areas to nuclear radiation such as iodine and cesium 135 and 137; 14) Delayed announcement of government relief and compensation measures to those ordered to leave or stay put at their own residences in the disaster areas for the loss of jobs and income due to the death of their cattle and prohibition of their farm and marine products; 5.4

People’s Old Mindset 1) Primarily concerned with economic growth that permits stable employment and a steady income growth, people in Japan are still pursuing an unsustainable life- style detrimental to resource efficiency and security, nature conservation, environmental protection and community livelihood; 2) Primarily concerned with maintaining group solidarity and adhering to consensus-building, both public and private organizations have tended to restrain individual freedom, identity, innovative ideas and diversity of views and active discussion among their members, thus retarding the process of societal restructuring essential in the age of global transformation; 3) Primarily concerned with protecting the vested interests of their own narrow sectors, professions and communities, politics of Japan has been astray like a captainless boat in the rough sea, unable to agree on a set of goals to be achieved, courses of action and measures to be taken and the burden of responsibilities to be shared among them, only to end up eventually at the bottom of the sea; 6. Role of Local and Central Governments for Installing an Integrated Series of Sustainable Communities 13

RH paper on Sustainable Communities after the EJGET in March, 2011  

RH paper on Sustainable Communities after the EJGET in March, 2011