A guest blog from Peter David Pedersen, CEO of E-Square Inc based in Toyko, Japan
Dear Friend and Colleagues
You may have heard from friends in Japan about the terrible devastation caused by the earthquake and tsunamis in the last few days, but here’s an (additional) update from me.
The earthquake was not only enormously powerful, but also very very long, with deep, rolling, violent tremors continuing for up to five minutes in some locations. Apparently more than 10,000 people have been killed along the east coast of Honshu, with the three prefectures Fukushima, Miyagi and Iwate being hit the hardest. Much more damaging than the actual earthquake were the numerous and huge tsunamis that came one after another.
Predictions were for the first tsunamis to arrive tens of minutes after the quake, but in reality the first arrived only nine minutes later, taking thousands of people with it.
On a stretch of some 7-800 kilometers from Tokyo northwards, villages and towns along the coastline have been flattened.
Scary right now is also what is going on at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station some 200 km north of Tokyo. Reactors 1-3 have been – and still are - in danger of meltdown. Following an explosion of the building covering reactor 1 on Saturday, the same type of explosion occurred just two hours (Monday 11:01 am Japan Time) ago at reactor three.
Tokyo Eletric Power Company is working feverishly with support of the Japanese military to control the event, but as is often the case with nuclear power in this country (and elsewhere?), the information disclosure appears defensive and always aimed at playing down the significance of that is going on.
A few hundred citizens, at least, have already been exposed to some radiation, although not clear how serious.
With the Tokyo Metropolitan area – home to some 30 million people – only 200 km south of the power station, this is indeed a very very scary situation.
Having participated, in 1978, in the demonstrations throughout Denmark that kept the country from introducing nuclear power, I have always been highly critical of the absolute lunacy of having nuclear power on the faultlines and along the highly tsunami-prone coastlines of Japan.
In the midst of all the death and destruction here, maybe one small hope can be that the trouble with Fukushima Daiichi Power Station may help put a brake on the enthusiasm for nuclear power which reappeared around the world in the last few years. To me, sustainability cannot possibly be obtained with nuclear power.
The Japanese are taking the disaster with a stoic patience. The government is also handling the malaise rapidly and competently, and promises/arrival of help from more than 65 countries and regions around the world has been touching and immediate.
Knowing this country, I am convinced that in the medium term – over the next few years – Japan and the Japanese will come back even stronger. My hope is that it will also help spur new, constructive discussions, policies and actions contributing to sustainable development.
All at E-Square, including family members, came unscathed out of the event.
All the very best,
Peter David Pedersen
Chief Executive, E-Square Inc.