Published Mar 16, 2011 3:36 PM
March 15 — Workers World Party would like to offer its sincerest condolences and concern for the people of Japan, who have lost many lives and continue to struggle in the aftermath of the worst earthquake, and ensuing tsunami, on record in the area.
We join with the people of Japan in condemning the Japanese government for its lack of transparency in its response to the earthquake and tsunami — for not telling people what is happening and for not preparing people for evacuation if needed. At the same time, we solidarize ourselves with Japan’s heroic public service and nuclear energy workers, who have been working round the clock and, in many cases, risking their lives in order to protect the lives of others. The country’s nuclear workers are especially being made to bear the brunt of the dangers of the situation without any relief and without enough care for their safety.
In Japan, the devastation of the earthquake and tsunami was limited by the valiant efforts of these workers, along with the country’s highly developed economy. The number of deaths to date is fewer than the number of civilians killed by the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention the huge toll of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti — a country that was already impoverished by neoliberal International Monetary Fund policies.
Bourgeois media reports are now raising the alarm for a nuclear catastrophe in Japan, as workers scramble to fix cooling systems for five nuclear reactors at two power plants. This situation should be approached in context. Japan, which has no oil resources of its own, has extensively developed nuclear power in a bid to be free of dependence on U.S.-controlled oil. The Associated Press reports that 30 percent of Japan’s electricity is received through nuclear power. (March 11).
Our readers should be cautioned that some of the anti-nuclear noise coming from the U.S. can be seen as speaking for the interests of Big Oil — the wealthy oil industries primarily from the U.S., Britain and France. The potential radiation exposure in Japan, even in the worst-case scenario, is not even minutely close to what was done by just one of the atomic bombs the U.S. dropped on Japan in 1945.
Nuclear power is being sought by Cuba, Iran, North Korea and other countries. For now, it is the only viable alternative to reliance on Big Oil for power and development of the economy. China has been able to develop mainly because it did not have to rely on oil/gas for power, but has big reserves of coal that it used instead. For now, Japan will have to switch to gas-based power plants to temporarily replace the nuclear plants lost to the earthquake.
At the same time, the Japan nuclear plant crisis shows the necessity for a people’s takeover of the energy industry, both the nuclear industry and the oil/gas industry. Such a takeover would ensure that the safety and lives of workers — and the environment - would always come first with regards to the preparation and consumption of energy for human use.