By Prof. JOSE MARIA SISON
Chairperson, International League of Peoples’ Struggle
We, the International League of Peoples’ Struggle, express anew our sympathies with the Japanese people and our concern that the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe has continued to widen and worsen. We reiterate our global call to oppose the irresponsible, profit-seeking, and anti-people use of nuclear power, whether for energy or for weaponry, by the imperialists.
Scope of nuclear catastrophe
The nuclear meltdown at Fukushima was triggered by the massive earthquake and tsunami three years ago on 11 March 2011. It resulted in 1,600 fatalities, displacement of at least 160,000 inhabitants, economic losses of up to US$500 billion, the abandonment of entire cities and big swathes of farmland. The deadly radiation continues to spread to the rest of Japan and many other parts of the world. Like the 1986 Chernobyl accident, the 2011 Fukushima disaster was classified at no. 7, the highest in the International Nuclear Event Scale. But Fukushima is in fact far worse, with three of its six reactors melting down, in comparison to the Chernobyl’s one of four blowing up.
In Chernobyl, the plant was eventually entombed to stop the radiation’s spread, with its Exclusion Zone covering 2,600 square km, and its final clean up estimated to take up to 50 years. But in Fukushima, where radiation rapidly exceeded that of Chernobyl and where clean up is estimated to take up to 100 years, the Japanese authorities have irresponsibly limited the Exclusion Zone, currently to 800 square km. Nevertheless, the much wider affected area lies beyond Japan’s coast, with radioactive groundwater relentlessly flowing out to the Pacific Ocean and beyond through ocean currents.
Radioactivity from Fukushima is contaminating the global food chain worldwide. Toxic Cesium isotopes are expected to wash up on North American shores in the next months, and have already been reported in tuna catches off California, signifying that the contamination cycle is expanding and climbing up the food chain. Its impacts have started to show up in increased cases of cancer and other debilitating diseases. A former nuclear industry insider has admitted that the Fukushima disaster may produce up to one million cases of cancer over the next 30 years. Other experts expect other enormous environmental and medical impacts for decades to come.
The imperialists as main culprits
We point out once more the direct accountability of TEPCO, the company that owned the Fukushima nuclear plant complex, as well as that of the Japanese government, which took over since 2012, for allowing design and operational defects that made the plant susceptible to tsunami impacts. We also denounce the Japanese government and the nuclear power industry as a whole for limiting and distorting publicly accessible information about the Fukushima disaster, from Day 1 up to now, in order to create a false sense of assurance about nuclear safety, to cover up their criminal culpabilities, and worse, to justify a possible restarting of idled nuclear reactors.
We condemn the global imperialist conspiracy to downplay the long-term environmental impacts of the Fukushima disaster. Practically with one voice, the World Nuclear Association, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the Japanese state have repeatedly declared that the disaster “caused no deaths” and “no health-related problems”. A new State Secrets Act, passed by the Japanese Parliament last year, could in fact be used to suppress negative reportage on problems caused by the meltdown.
The worst nuclear disaster so far since Hiroshima and Nagasaki has underscored the deep crisis of monopoly capital in general, and in the field of energy sources and power generation in particular. Despite major nuclear accidents such as Three-Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima, there has been no fundamental shift in the energy policies of giant power companies and imperialist governments. They continue to promote the use of nuclear power as a “clean” alternative to fossil fuels, and specifically push for nuclear technologies monopolized by such giants as GE, Westinghouse, Toshiba, Hitachi, and Areva.
The production of nuclear power entails immense environmental risks, technological problems of control and waste disposal, and high vulnerability to natural catastrophes. These negative factors are further aggravated by the ever-dominant capitalist imperative to cut costs, maximize profits, compete with rivals, dominate the global nuclear export market, as well as gain advantages in the imperialist arms race.
Protest and resistance
General public opinion and mass protests against nuclear power escalated worldwide especially since Fukushima. The ILPS and its member-organizations and allied groups have been in the front line of mass protests and resistance against the irresponsible, profit-seeking and anti-people use of nuclear power worldwide, whether for energy or for weapons, by the imperialist states and their corporations.
Shortly after the Fukushima disaster began in March 2011, the ILPS joined hands with other international formations in carrying out the Global Day of Action against Nuclear Reactor Plants on 26 April. Jointly, we issued a manifesto and launched a one-year signature campaign under the slogan “Shut down all nuclear power plants” (later extended up to 11 March 2013).
Later we amended the manifesto to concentrate fire on the imperialist powers as the main culprits – both the masterminds and the biggest beneficiaries of the large stockpiles of nuclear weapons and the proliferation of nuclear power plants.
The ILPS reiterates the specific calls it raised since the Fukushima crisis began in 2011:
Shut down all nuclear power stations and plants built, owned and operated by corporations for profit without full regard for human safety and the environment!
The corporate owners of nuclear power plants must bear the costs of shutdown and clean up operations!
Application of the highest standards for storing the remaining radiating waste!
Demand compensation and appropriate medical support from the respective states and from corporate operators or owners of nuclear power plants for all victims of illnesses arising from exposure to nuclear power plant radiation and toxic wastes!
Save the environment from the greed for profit of the monopolies!
Pursue and expand research, promotion and propagation of environment-friendly power and energy sources!
Ban and destroy all nuclear, biological and chemical weapons!
Strengthen the international front of active resistance for the protection of the natural environment!
We stand steadfast in solidarity with the peoples of the world in their resistance to imperialism and its various environmental catastrophes, and in their struggle for a society where humankind and nature are best harmonized.