A Victory for the Anti-Nuclear Plant Argument?

(日本語による原文下部に掲載)
A Victory for the Anti-Nuclear Plant Argument?

Masatake Shinohara
(Translation by Max Black)

In 1980, the economist Yoshiro Tamanoi described the danger of nuclear power in the Asahi Shimbun by raising the following problem. “The trend to opt for nuclear plants, based on the myth that once there is no more oil, nuclear will be the only way to go, is rampant and powerful in the commercial sector,” and that “There tends to be no distrust towards the position that we can simply treat nuclear reactors as a supply basis and as one more choice which consumers and producers make by spending money.” However, the switch from oil to nuclear power was emphatically not graspable as a question of the economical alternative, but entailed serious questions. Namely, this was because it was necessarily accompanied by the release of a harmful output, of all kinds of radioactive waste, which would place decisive burdens on the life environment. This waste would also place our descendents, at least to the third or fourth generation, in danger. The question he asked, then, was whether or not it made sense to promote nuclear power without properly considering these effects on the future.

In a Japanese newspaper from thirty years ago, we were able to see the criticism that nuclear plants are promoted without much thought. In the end, however, has this criticism been received seriously?

It has been ignored. For example, there have been the researchers against nuclear plants, most notably Hiroaki Koide at Kyoto University. Called the Kumatori 6, they have studied nuclear power for the purpose of ending nuclear power. Because of this oppositional stance, they have been intellectually isolated in universities. Nuclear plant promotion is national policy. Perhaps it is a matter of course that those who oppose it should be intellectually isolated. But they have stubbornly continued with their stance of opposition to nuclear power, making good use of objective data, as scientists, without compromising their stance.

Perhaps we can say that through the Fukushima accident, the danger of nuclear plants has been substantiated. The critics were correct. The factions that promoted it, declaring the safety of nuclear power, fully ignoring voices of criticism, were wrong. Radioactive pollution has now in reality occurred. Its harmful effects and its burdens may be confirmed anew at a time ten to twenty years from now. The political vision of the critics was the correct one.

So maybe we can also say this. The critics of nuclear power won. We should therefore restore the reputations of those who were abused and ignored. Let us celebrate the victory of the critics. Actually, this may be the first time that this lot, starting with those researchers at Kyoto University, who consistently advocated an antinuclear stance has seen a victory. Following the accident at Fukushima, there are definitely many people who are hearing, for the first time, that they exist. With this opportunity, those who had their research results ignored will now see their work become a reference point for many people.

If we really think about this, for the past thirty years the argument against nuclear reactors itself has not been raised very well. Starting with the accident at Kashiwazaki in Niigata Prefecture four years ago, accidents which make the current situation not at all surprising have taken place multiple times. But, perhaps because the situation had not truly become serious, the argument on the danger of nuclear plants had not shown the dynamism it has now. With an accident on the level of Chernobyl, opposition to nuclear power seems to finally be turning into a national concern. But one cannot but wonder what it means that the argument did not spread until things reached this level of danger. The argument in opposition to nuclear power also existed in the 1980’s. Why was it that the argument did not seriously build up until now, of all times?

Ikegami Yoshihiko’s claim on this blog is that with today’s earthquake and nuclear accident, most preexisting philosophy in Japan has become bankrupt and lost its meaning, and that it not only fails to understand the present situation but impedes its understanding.

In 1934 the physicist Torahiko Terada wrote, in ‘Natural Disaster and National Defense,’ that, “as civilization advances, this comes with an increased degree of violence in the devastation which natural disaster’s tyrannical power brings about.’ We can say that contemporary Japanese civilization, in the level of science and engineering found in its transportation system, communications equipment, and IT technology has reached great heights by even a worldwide standard. But the damage from the natural disaster is dire beyond precedent because of this high level. Were not the bankrupt and meaningless philosophies Ikegami describes constructed around the premise of a high standard of civilization in this sense? Were not they built up on the assumption that a calamity such as an earthquake absolutely would not occur, and that civilization would continue to progress in perpetuity? Was not the assumption that a nuclear accident is impossible blind faith rooted in the high level of Japanese scientific technology?

One reason that serious discussion of nuclear power plants was ignored and suppressed was, perhaps, this blind faith in scientific technology. Is not the tendency to suppress as ‘groupthink and rumor’ the argument which doubts safety itself– it is clear to everyone that a nuclear accident has occurred, radiation is being released, so why are we being told that things are safe–based on an ideology which places science and technology in the center? Doubtless, this centrism of science and technology is not the only form of philosophy that has become meaningless. We should say that the Japanese-style postmodernism of the 1980’s, which supported a sense of satisfaction based in economic prosperity, has also become meaningless. There are likely many others as well.

However, I have my doubts as to whether meeting with bankruptcy and meaninglessness implies death. These preexisting philosophies may continue to live from this point onward as bankrupt, meaningless, and explanation-impeding philosophies. While the danger of nuclear power is clear, the tendency to promote it remains, and just as they suppressed voices of opposition, meaningless philosophies impeding the intellectual endeavor of creating meaningful philosophies may multiply themselves from hereon in.

As far as what we are to think–we need, of course, to track the novelty of the situation brought on by this disaster. But we also need to be mindful of the damage wrought upon us by impeding, meaningless, and bankrupt philosophies. And to this end there is, also, the need for a revival of those meaningful philosophies that were ignored and repressed by the philosophy that today continues to bankrupt itself.

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反原発論の勝利?

篠原雅武

一九八〇年の朝日新聞で、経済学者の玉野井芳郎(たまのいよしろう)は、原発の危険性について述べていた。「”石油なきあとは原子力のみ”という神話にもとづく原発の決定が商業ベースで大手を振って横行し」、「国民もまたエネルギー供給源としての原発を、需要家または消費者の側からカネで買える選択肢の一つとして簡単に扱ってあやしまない」という風潮に対し、疑義を呈したのである。石油から原子力への転換は、けっして経済的な代替関係の次元では把握し得ない、深刻な問題をはらんでいる。それは、各種の放射性廃棄物という、生命環境に決定的な負荷を与えるネガのアウトプットの排出を必然的に伴うからだ。しかもこの廃棄物は、少なくとも三世代から四世代にわたる子孫を危険に巻き込むものである。そういった未来におよぶ影響についてしっかりと考えることなく原発を推進するのはいかがなものか、というわけだ。

このように、今から三〇年前の日本の新聞でも、原発が安易に推進されることへの批判を目にすることはできた。だが、こういった批判は、はたして深刻にうけとめられたか?

それは無視された。たとえば京都大学には、小出裕章(こいでひろあき)をはじめとする反原発の研究者がいる。熊取六人組と称されている彼らは、原子力を終わらせるために原子力の研究をしてきた。その反対の立場ゆえに、大学では冷遇されてきた。原発推進は国策である。これに反対する人たちが冷遇されるのは当然だろう。だが彼らは、反原発の立場を崩すことなく、科学者として、客観的なデータを駆使し、原発に対し執拗に反対してきた。

原発の危険性は、福島の事故により、立証されたといえるだろう。批判者は正しかった。批判の声を徹底的に無視し、原発の安全を叫んだ推進派は、間違っていた。放射能汚染は現実に起こった。それが与えるネガの効果の災厄は、今後、一〇年か二〇年経った頃になって、新たに確認されるだろう。批判者が描いたビジョンのほうが正しかったのだ。

だからこういってもいいだろう。「原発の批判者は勝利した。虐げられ、無視された人たちの名誉回復をはからねばならない。批判者の勝利を祝福しよう」。実際、京都大学の研究者をはじめ、反原発の立場を貫いた人たちが日の目を見たのは、今回がはじめてだろう。このような反原発の人たちがいたことを、今回の福島の事故のあと初めて知ったという人も、多いはずだ。これを機に、無視された自分たちの研究成果は、多くの人に参照されることになろう。

よくよく考えてみれば、この三〇年間、反原発という議論自体、あまりまともにとりあげられなかった。四年前の、新潟県の柏崎原発における事故をはじめ、今回のような事態になってもおかしくなかった事故は多発していた。だが、深刻な事態にまではいたらなかったからか、原発の危険性をめぐる議論がこれほどまでに活況を呈することはなかった。チェルノブイリ級の事故になってようやく、反原発は国民的な関心事となろうとしている。だが、ここまで危険が深刻にならないと議論が盛り上がらないというのもいかがなものかと思わなくもない。反原発の議論自体は、一九八〇年代にもあった。どうして今の今までこの議論が真剣に積み重ねられなかったのか?

池上善彦は、今回の震災と原発事故により、日本では、従来型の思想の多くが破綻し、意味を失ったと述べている。今回の事態を理解し得ないだけでなく、それの理解の妨げになる、というわけだ。

物理学者の寺田寅彦(てらだとらひこ)は、一九三四年に、「天災と国防」で述べていた。「文明が進めば進むほど天然の暴威による災害がその激烈の度を増す」。現代の日本の文明は、交通網、電子通信機器、IT技術など、工学的科学的な基準からいえば、世界的にも相当の高い水準にあったといえる。だが、この高さゆえに、災害によるダメージの凄まじさも、かつてないものとなった。池上がいう、破綻し無意味になった思想は、このような意味での文明の水準の高さを前提に組み上げられたものではないか。震災のような大惨事などけっして起こることはなく、文明は永遠に進歩しつづけるという想定のもと、成り立っていたものではないか。原発事故などありえないという想定も、日本の科学技術の水準の高さへの妄信にもとづいていたのではないか。

原発をめぐる真剣な議論が無視され封殺されたことの理由は、おそらく、科学技術への妄信がある。原発事故は誰の目にも明白で放射線の飛散も明らかであるのに、どういうわけか安全であるといわれ、安全性を疑うような議論については「非科学的な流言飛語」という名目で封殺しようとする風潮が立脚するのは、科学技術中心主義ではないのか?無意味になった思想はもちろん、科学技術中心主義だけではない。経済的な豊かさを根拠に充足感を謳歌した八〇年代の日本型ポストモダン思想も無意味になったというべきである。ほかにもたくさんあるだろう。

しかしながら、破綻し、無意味になったとはいえ、それがそのまま死に絶えるかとなると、疑問である。ひょっとしたら、破綻し、無意味になり、事態の説明の妨げになるというあり方で、そうした従来型の思想は今後も生き延びるかもしれない。原発の危険性は明らかであるのにもかかわらずいまだに推進しようとする風潮が残存し、反対の声を封殺しようとするのと同じく、無意味な思想も、意味のある思想を展開しようとする知的営為を妨害すべく今後も跋扈するのかもしれない。

これから何かを考えるためには、震災がもたらした事態の新しさを注視する必要があるのはもちろんである。だがさらに、それの妨げとなる、無意味で破綻した思想によって妨害されることに注意しなくてはならない。そのためには、現在において破綻しつつある思想のせいで無視され抑圧されてきた意味のある思想を再生させることも必要である。

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