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Olympics or Getting out of the Nuclear Accident

By Osamu Takeuchi

Tokyo was chosen over Istanbul and Madrid as the “safe pair of hands” to host the 2020 Summer Olympics at the general session of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on September 7, 2013.  There the Prime Minister Shinzo Abe asserted: “The impact of contaminated water is completely contained within 0.3 square kilometers of the port in the Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant.”

This is however absolutely false.  In fact, still now a large amount of underground water, including contaminated water, has leaked every day from the Fukushima No.1 nuclear plant.  Also, about three hundred tons of treated water leaked from the ground tank last month.  Even TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) explained that water in the harbor has not been completely shielded and flows back and forth into the open sea.

Abe is also trying not only to promote the re-starting of nuclear power plants, but also even to export nuclear power plants abroad.  There is a big disparity between Germany and Japan in terms of how to wrestle with nuclear issues.  Three days after the Fukushima nuclear accident, on March 15, 2011, Prime Minister Merkel indicated the shutdown of seven nuclear power plants in Germany.  After that, legislature passed a resolution to shorten the running time of nuclear power plants and to abolish them in 2022.  Of course, the community in Germany has been divided over nuclear power.  The Chernobyl nuclear accident in 1987 spurred them to abolish nuclear power.  Now, the Fukushima nuclear accident has confirmed the decision to do so.  After the Fukushima nuclear accident, the German government established two committees, the “Reactor Safety Committee,” and the “Ethics Committee on the Safety of Energy Supply.”  The German Catholic church also exerted a strong influence.  Reinhard Cardinal Marx, Archbishop of Munich and Freising, played an important role as a central member of the Ethics Committee.

Unfortunately, however, many of these features are not found in Japan.  In addition, we may be able to point out the following points found in Germany but not in Japan: logic, a Christian view of nature and of the world, and long-term vision.  Economics appears to be the supreme priority behind the decisions both to re-open nuclear power plants and to hold the Olympics.  I disagree with those who support the Olympics in Tokyo, I insist that we have more urgent and important issues such as the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident.  This is a problem, not only for Japan, but also for the whole world, because it relates to all life on the earth.


Osamu Takeuchi, S.J., a native of Japan, is a professor of moral theology at Sophia University in Tokyo, Japan. He received his S.T.D. from the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley. His areas of special interest are fundamental moral theology, bioethics, and sexual ethics. He has published Conscience and Culture: A Dialogue between the West and the East concerning Conscience (Saarbrücken, Germany: LAP Lambert Academic Publishing, 2010).