Home > Queensland Synod News > Japanese Christian activist protests nuclear accident cover-up

Japanese Christian activist protests nuclear accident cover-up

The leader of a Japanese Christian group that concerns itself with nuclear disasters has protested against a nuclear power plant accident in central Japan that was covered up for years.

"This is an injustice that cannot be tolerated. We strongly protest [against the accident cover-up]," said Yoshiko Bannai, chairperson of the Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster Issue Project of the National Christian Council in Japan.

The protest was expressed in a 16 March letter addressed to Isao Nagahara, president of the Hokuriku Electric Power Company, and the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency of the government’s ministry of economy, trade and industry.

It was reported on 15 March that a nuclear power plant in Shika, Ishikawa Prefecture, had caused an inadvertent nuclear chain reaction in 1999 after three control rods slipped out of position. The report added that the company covered up the incident for more than seven years before reporting it to the government. The company said it was a minor accident.

Since 1990, Bannai’s group has organized visits to victims of the 1986 nuclear accident in Chernobyl in the former Soviet Union, in response to calls for medical and other support by the World Council of Churches and the Russian Orthodox Church. She pointed out that the 1999 Japanese accident was similar to the one in Chernobyl, and could have led to a major disaster.

"Such a cover up could lead to the deprivation of the lives of not only human beings but also of all creatures," she added.

"Please tackle the prevention of the recurrence of nuclear accidents," said Bannai, whose denomination is called the Non-Church Group. "We request that there be full access to information."

The nuclear power company president offered a "sincere apology" for losing the trust of local residents, and said he was determined to investigate thoroughly the causes of the accident.

(c) Ecumenical News International