On March 11, 2011, Japan experienced a 9.0 earthquake. The six nuclear plants at Fukushima Daiichi survived the quake but were swamped by a 45-foot wave that overwhelmed the 19-foot seawalls. In the ensuing three years, we learned four grim truths.
Before the Fukushima accident, with the belief that no nuclear accident would happen as long as the safety measures were followed properly, I had pushed the policy of utilizing nuclear power. Having faced the real accident as Prime Minister, my view is now changed 180 degrees.
The former head of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said yesterday that emergency plans for a catastrophic event at the Indian Point nuclear power plant are not designed to ensure that residents will escape unhealthy doses of radiation and it would be best if the plant closes down.
The bottom line is that nuclear power has great potential in theory, but not in reality. Japan reminds us that while we generally now view nuclear energy as relatively safe, the occasional outlier kills the industry.
Tokyo may be celebrating, but there is a deeply concerning global angst about a city hosting the Olympic games about 220 kilometers (137 miles) from the site of one of the worst nuclear disasters in history.
The president opened his speech with a poetic tribute to the Apollo program, a generational mission championed by President John F. Kennedy more than half a century ago. But no comparison can be made between Kennedy's bold vision and Obama's timid plan.