Tokyo lacks any sense of urgency

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Tokyo lacks any sense of urgency

Leakage from the Fukushima nuclear complex, which was crippled by a massive earthquake and tsunami two years ago, is ballooning into a catastrophic disaster.

The nuclear operator Tokyo Electric Power recently admitted that a radioactive water storage tank at the plant had already leaked 300 tons of contaminated water. TEPCO has been digging up and removing contaminated earth, but is unsure of the extent of the spread of the contamination. It fears some of the water might have flowed into the ocean. Worse, there are 350 similar tanks at the damaged reactor site, which means that the problem could become widespread.

The Japanese government has scurried to negotiate with TEPCO about redesigning the problem storage areas. But what use is trying to mend the barn after the horse has been stolen?

We must question the Japanese government’s sense of urgency and crisis control. The radioactive leakage is not a natural disaster. It could have been prevented if regulators had taken precautionary and thorough check-up measures.

The government should not leave the matter entirely up to TEPCO and instead take control of the crisis. Even the Japanese media is demanding more aggressive action from the government.

The leakage of contaminated water poses a serious threat to neighboring countries like us that share the sea. The Korean government should try to rein in unnecessary and wild rumors about radioactive contamination.

Prime Minister Chung Hong-won ordered the Foreign Ministry to secure information from Japan on the leakage of contaminated water and thoroughly investigate the matter, and asked the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission to measure radiation in the sea, in rainwater and in the air in coastal regions.

But how can we investigate something that even Japan has not been able to accurately assess? Rhetorical measures can hardly stave off rumors and ease anxieties.

The radiation leakage is not Japan’s domestic matter. It is a major global disaster.

Seoul must demand that Tokyo take thorough safety actions and fully disclose what information it has. Tokyo must respond accurately and in a timely manner because the matter can affect its national credibility.

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