CWS Japan took part in one of the official proceedings of World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction called “Working Session:Technological Disaster from Risk to Recovery”. In fact, this was the first time in history that technological disaster has been brought up in such a high-level DRR conference as one of the main sessions. The post-2015 DRR framework includes both natural and man-made disasters, and it calls for proactive risk assessment and disclosure.
CWS Japan, on behalf of a coalition of groups like ours brought together for the conference, made an intervention from the floor (in a pre-allocated speaking slot), to explain that Japan has failed as a society in creating such a safety myth around nuclear power plants, which then led to panic when the Fukushima accident occurred. The text, “10 Lessons from Fukushima – Reducing risks and protecting communities from nuclear disasters” was also introduced to hundreds of participants in the room, and the chair of the session even indicated that everyone should have a look at the booklet as it very well captures what actually happened.
Japan’s government, who provided a panellist for the session, indicated that they are clearly breaking away from the ‘safety myth’ around nuclear power plants. However, risk identification and disclosure of such information is still limited in places where nuclear power plants exist or are being built. Japanese revision of nuclear plants management stresses structural endurance against potential disasters, but does not emphasize how to communicate the risks of nuclear power to residents.
Such risk assessments and disclosures are pre-requisites to any DRR work, and nuclear power plants are not exceptions. We will continue to advocate around this issue. After all, communities have the right to decide which risks they can accept. Hiding critical information from them, in our opinion, is taking that right away. What, then, of justice? True disaster risk reduction begs us to keep on asking that question.