Mar 28, 2011

The Script of Kenichi Ohmae Live #579 released

The script of Kenichi Ohmae Live #579 "A week after the earthquake -- The present condition and future of the nuclear accident of Fukushima " has just released.

Download the script PDF

This script made by Open Translation Project; a voluntary crowd-source project to make English scripts of speaking words of wisdom in Japanese for brighter future.

The live presented by Dr. Kenichi Ohmae was recorded on March 19th 2011 and uploaded to YouTube on 20th. The number of access has exceeded over 460,000 for the last 8 days.

The summary is;

Dr. Kenichi Ohmae, described as “Mr. Strategy” worldwide, previously Chairman of the Japan Atomic Industrial Conference, talks on the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident inside out - what is happening and how Japan... should cope with it.

What Is Happening?

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident reaches Level 6 on the international nuclear and radiological event scale. It is worse than the Three Mile accident which was Level 5, but unlikely to be devastating as the Chernobyl disaster which was Level 7.

The key cause of this disaster was that both the earthquake and tsunami hit the Fukushima Daiichi simultaneously, which damaged all the backup systems and eventually its control facility.

Industrial policy that promoted nuclear energy without due national consensus made the situation worse. Firstly, spent nuclear fuels were preserved in the same facility because an interim storage facility had not been built. Secondly, too many plants were built at the same site.

Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the plant operator that has a shameful record of cover-ups, now lacks the competency of managing the problem since it has no nuclear energy experts on its board. TEPCO had purged them in the past incidents.

The government needs to set up a “control cower” with nuclear energy experts to cope with the challenge. The current organizations have not functioned properly. Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) cannot make sound decision because they are the one that has been promoting nuclear energy. Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) lacks experts who can manage the ground. Academic nuclear experts who appear on the media are not qualified for this role, because they are nuclear engineering experts with no experience in designing a plant.

The death toll would rise to tens of thousands as I predicted right after the earthquake. Japan can no more be proud of its capacity of coping with earthquakes and tsunamis. The mega earthquakes and tsunamis have exceeded every assumptions Japan had made. The tsunamis visualized one of the most petrifying scenes which the world had ever witnessed. We should utilize those valuable records for the future.

Taking Actions

First of all, we must secure enough time for the workers to operate on-site. However, the radiation leak has made it difficult to do so. I propose that they build a frontline base entirely covered by lead. Since lead provides very effective radiation shield, the base would enable the workers to operate on-site.

Then, radiation diffusion must be stopped. However, it will take 3 to 5 years for decay heat to cool down, which means that the risk of radiation leak remains for that period. To prevent radiation from flowing out, a huge tent covering the whole facility would be effective. When it comes to utilizing tents for buildings, Japan is one of the best countries. The world’s best tent maker could build the tent in 3 months. Once the tent has been installed, the cranes can be reinstalled and facilities can be rebuilt.

I propose to bring the nuclear power plant experts to Japan, and establish a team of specialists to find solutions. This team will arrive at unified opinion on the current issue. This work would have an impact on not only the nuclear energy policy in Japan but also all others in the global arena. I am willing to lead the team.

Based on available information as of March 19, the government policy to evacuate residents living within 30 km from the Fukushima Daiichi is reasonable. However, there is no official “control tower” that overlooks the entire evacuation zone. The “control tower” must be set up immediately.

There are two measures to secure recovery funds: 1) Implementing “Disaster Recovery Consumption Tax” for a limited time and purpose only. 2% increase in the consumption tax would generate 4 trillion yen. 2) Mandatory electricity saving and pricing review on electricity. Government bonds are out of the question. Over-issuing government bonds would make the nation melt down.

My proposal is not to restore, but to create new Tohoku district. To minimize the risk of tsunami, new communities should be built on the uplands. Only green spaces and public buildings could be built in the low elevation areas. Restore few fishing ports and have fishers commute from the community area. Change the structure of seawalls into the water gate type to prevent floods more effectively

People in Japan are seriously concerned about blackouts due to electricity shortage. But the important point should be to manage the peak demand. Introducing summer time (day light saving), working five days a week out of seven days from Monday to Sunday, and shifting peak demand in the summer should be more effective than scheduled blackouts. Another effective measure is to align frequency of the western and eastern electricity companies so that the east can borrow electricity from the west. It would be worth the cost.

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