How capitalism made Japan’s disaster worse
Published Mar 23, 2011 9:37 PM
Based on a talk given to a Workers World Party forum on March
The hearts of workers and the oppressed of the world go out to the Japanese
people who have been hit by an earthquake and tsunami and are now threatened
with nuclear disaster. We can never forget that more than 200,000 people,
almost all civilians, were murdered by U.S. nuclear bombs dropped on Japan in
1945, while millions suffered from radiation poisoning, cancer and birth
defects in the following decades.
But the hearts of the Japanese and U.S. capitalist governments, investment
bankers and corporate plunderers are stone cold to the suffering of the
The quake and tsunami may have killed 30,000 people. Whole villages have been
destroyed. Factories, stores, water, food supplies, homes, electricity, heating
facilities for the cold north, the fishing industry and animal herds were
demolished. Millions are suffering still. Food and water supplies are
contaminated in a 100-mile radius.
Vital information about the nuclear threat is being withheld. The Japanese and
U.S. capitalist governments, Tokyo Electric Power and General Electric, which
built the affected plants, the International Atomic Energy Agency — all
are tied to the profit-driven oil, gas, coal and nuclear energy industries and
cannot be trusted.
The greatest threat arises from lack of water to cool 1,100 spent fuel rods,
which emit deadly cesium and plutonium if ignited. A Tokyo Eletric Power
executive admitted that the company delayed pumping sea water in, fearing it
would ruin a valuable investment.
Since 1972 nuclear power experts have condemned the GE-designed plants for not
venting hydrogen gas — which caused the explosions — and for unsafe
storage of spent fuel rods. Tokyo Electric Power has been cited for numerous
uncorrected safety violations.
While the imperialists on the United Nations Security Council rushed to get a
resolution allowing them to wage war on Libya, the International Atomic Energy
Agency, dominated by these same powers, said they’ll send some experts in
a few days — a week after the crisis.
The Japanese government has told people in the area of the nuclear reactors to
move 10 miles away. Yet all the corporate executives have been told to relocate
at least 50 miles away. Most have fled to luxury hotels in Tokyo. Massive
government-sponsored airlifts have been provided to evacuate corporate
bloodsuckers from Japan, while working people freeze and go hungry.
Salute Japanese nuclear workers
The perilous job of racing to stop a nuclear catastrophe is being heroically
and selflessly carried out by a small group of workers. The amount of radiation
levels they can “safely” absorb is constantly raised by those
sitting at a safe distance.
While adults and children were dying, the first “emergency” measure
taken by the Japanese government was to dump almost half a trillion dollars
into the stock market to prevent a crash.
The G7 countries held an emergency meeting March 19 attended by U.S. Treasury
Secretary Timothy Geithner and Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke. They
discussed their fear that the global capitalist crisis was deepened by this
They each pledged to put money from their central banks — the working
class’ money — into propping up currencies. Did they take up
relieving the largest rise in food prices in 36 years? Did they discuss the
fate of the Japanese people, or the planet? No, their concern was how to shore
up the currency markets.
The central banks are rushing in to buy up government bonds to keep their
interest returns high as countries sell them. They stated that the unfolding
disaster sent a shudder through world markets as investors sought the safe
haven of government debt. That will mean more interest payments as banks loot
How to make a profit from this tragedy was the order of the day. Warren Buffet,
the third-richest man in the world, said, “Frequently, something out of
the blue ... really creates a buying opportunity [for shares in Japanese
companies]. I have seen that happen in the U.S. I have seen that happen around
the world, I don’t think Japan will be an exception.” (Reuters,
The Chicago Board of Trade soared 46 percent on currency speculation. An
investment banker said, “It’s a great environment out
Other “emergency” actions were taken by companies like Hewlett
Packard, which set up a Pentagon-styled, 24-hour “situation room”
to monitor where it would get parts due to closed Japan factories, so the
process of making profits could go on. Most commodities these days are a
product of global labor, but end up in the hands of private capitalist
U.S. gov’t backs nuclear industry
Military corporations, banks and energy industries, especially big oil, are the
real powers behind the capitalist state. GE designed the Japanese plants and GE
CEO Jeffrey Immelt is a close consultant to President Barack Obama, who
bizarrely named him to be his “jobs czar.” In November, Obama went
to India with Immelt and 200 other executives. They forced and bribed the
Indian government to pass legislation exempting GE from liability for nuclear
Countries everywhere were forced to turn to nuclear energy because of the U.S.
monopolization of the oil industry. While we have an urgent, global need for
safe, sustainable energy, saving the people and the planet plays no role in the
decisions of Wall Street and the capitalist governments.
Our labor comes together around the globe, but the product of that labor is
stolen by the private capitalist owners. We need a global public takeover from
private industry of all energy resources and the creation of committees from
the masses to oversee and create new sources and dismantle what is
Sam Marcy, the late chairperson of Workers World Party, wrote in 1990:
“At this critical phase in world history, it is only the deliberate
activity of the masses themselves, when they intervene and threaten the system
of capitalist exploitation and oppression, that can sweep away the polluters
like the hazardous waste they created on this planet.” (Workers World,
April 26, 1990)
Only a planned, socialist system, based on need, not greed, and global
cooperation of the working class and oppressed can save the planet and free
human beings from hunger, war, poverty and environmental destruction.
We stand with the working class and oppressed of Japan and demand that GE,
Tokyo Electric and the governments that back them be held liable and that
immediate and emergency aid be provided to all those suffering in Japan.
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