Japan’s nuclear disaster ‘made in USA’
Published Apr 5, 2011 9:16 PM
It’s beyond time to stop the ruling class in both the U.S. and Japan from
dumping human and financial costs onto the backs of the workers and poor of the
The U.S. subjected Japan to a nuclear holocaust in 1945 when its Air Force
dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. More than 65 years later,
another nuclear disaster has the “Made in the U.S.A.” label on it,
this time with the full participation and cooperation of the Japanese
capitalist government and ruling class.
Japanese nuclear workers have made heroic efforts — some workers
have been subjected to doses of radiation 10,000 times greater than is normally
found near nuclear plants — but the struggle to limit the damages and
avert a meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear plant 120 miles north of Tokyo
continues with no end in sight. Radioactivity in the ocean near the plant was
reported to be 1,800 times the normal “safe” level.
There are dreadful human costs caused by the catastrophe: disease from
radiation, genetic damage to future generations and death. But the Japanese
people are also undergoing a gigantic economic disaster. Japanese taxpayers may
be forced to pay as much as 1 trillion yen ($12 billion) to compensate
businesses and individuals for damages from the nuclear accident. Japanese law
limits the maximum cost for the Tokyo Electric Power Company, which owns the
plant, to one-eighth of that amount.
The U.S. corporate giant General Electric built the Fukushima plant four
decades ago. But GE will pay nothing, protected by the “channeling
law.” This agreement among the U.S., Japan and other countries ensures
that liability for nuclear accidents and damages is channeled exclusively to
the plant operators and the government.
GE is used to this kind of preferential treatment. The company’s
current CEO, Jeffrey Immelt, is one of President Barack Obama’s close
advisors. Although GE had over $14 billion in profits last year, it will pay
zero corporate taxes to the U.S. this year. Instead, it will
receive a $3.2 billion tax benefit! The General Electric
Financial Division also received a whopping $140 billion in
federal-taxpayer-funded bailout money in 2008.
Around the world various energy companies are trumpeting the safety of
nuclear power and urging the construction of even more plants. Left unsaid is
the fact that no private nuclear company would consider building a nuclear
plant unless a government agrees to pay for any damages caused by a future
Poor and working people in Japan, the U.S. and around the world are the
ones paying for these nuclear plants, paying the costs of disaster and also
guaranteeing the profits of the relatively small handful of people who own
them. The workers at the plant, the community around them and the people in
general should be the ones to make the decisions to shut down plants at
immediate risk and demand protection from GE and other nuclear power giants, as
well as accountability and reparations for the damages these corporations have
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