Here’s this week’s Media Mix, which is a more thorough investigation into the subject I wrote about in this space last week: The absence of the anti-nuke movement in the Japanese media. The strong feelings on both sides of the nuclear energy controversy have seemingly rendered the controversy off-limits if for no other reason than that the media isn’t comfortable with such heated debates in the first place. Add to that the fact that the government has declared nuclear energy a national policy and the major power companies are huge advertisers (even though they don’t really have to be since they are essentially monopolies) and there’s nothing to discuss. However, as I found out, the anti-nuke faction is fairly dogmatic, which is why the pro-nuke faction refuses to talk to them about safety matters. This intransigence has, in turn, led to the perverse defensiveness that brought about the current disaster in Fukushima.
Despite the seriousness of the catastrophe, the divide seems to be widening. The debate now encompasses questions about “sensationalism.” One side says the media overplays the dangers of the reactor disaster, while the other side doesn’t trust the authorities to tell them the truth and thus feels the media isn’t reporting the hazards sufficiently. Those of us who occupy some sort of middle ground just hope that it isn’t as bad as the one side says it is, but nevertheless hardly think that Tepco and its enablers can be trusted with anything like an objective opinion. It has nothing to do with science and everything to do with feeling royally betrayed. Moreover, it isn’t a question of whether nuclear power is safe or the only “clean” energy that’s practical, even if I believe it isn’t. It has to do with the realization that the people in charge of Japan’s nuclear power industry have proved they aren’t up to the task.