This book details the story of two earthquakes, one that has already happened and one that is imminent, and their consequences, not only for Japan but also for the rest of the world. It is structured in a way that ‘chunks up’ in sections, from local/national events through to global consequences.
The first section of the book tells the story of how a country that suffered atomic bombing ended up obtaining a third of its electricity from nuclear power, despite having the misfortune to be located in the most seismically active zone in the world. It then depicts the sequence of what happened in March 2011 after the tsunami struck.
Next, the book details recent peer-reviewed studies about radiation and its effect on human health. A following chapter reveals the full costs of nuclear power– an energy source that never comes in on budget and is incredibly expensive. The final part of this section of the book describes the inadequacy of storing spent nuclear fuel once a nuclear power station has been decommissioned.
The latter half of the book adopts a larger frame or viewpoint, and looks at the use of nuclear and renewables in the context of world climate change and the widespread use of fossil fuels.
The final section of the book depicts a coming Tokyo earthquake and its consequences. A big earthquake in or near Tokyo is overdue. They usually happen every sixty to seventy years, yet the last one was in 1923. The author asserts that Japan will have to repatriate much of its treasury bonds which are held in the United States. The tsunami and meltdowns of 2011 represent the most expensive natural disaster in history. Even though Japan is the third biggest economy in the world, because of an estimated debt from the tsunami and Fukushima meltdowns of at least $500 million and weak indebted economy, it will struggle to pay this amount. The most obvious way to pay for rebuilding will be to sell stocks and treasury bonds held in the United States.
An earthquake striking Tokyo will hit right at the nerve centre of the country. All political and economic power is concentrated there. The headquarters of many global 500 companies, as well as all the powerful bureaucracies so vital to the country, are located in one central section of the capital. Most of Japan’s imports and exports go through Tokyo Bay, and this area is likely to be crippled for some time. Moreover, much of Tokyo’s manufacturing takes place on reclaimed land in the Bay – land which tends to liquefy in a big quake.
This book argues that because of the fragile situation of the world economies since 2008 (Lehman Bros etc), and the heavily indebted state of Japan’s finances, the only way that Japan will appeal to finance the enormous amount of post-quake rebuilding is to repatriate its investment in US government bonds and securities. This will have an immediate knock-on effect on the American economy, causing inflation and economic downturn, and as consequence throughout the rest of the world. In other words an earthquake in Tokyo will have a negative effect on most of the world’s economies.
Chapter 1: Cultural themes that relate to the Fukushima Earthquake and its aftermath
Cultural themes that relate to the Fukushima meltdowns. The importance of the group, the power of Japanese bureaucrats, factional strife, protection of the rural power base by the LDP Party.
Chapter 2: Land, the “Bubble era”, and the Yakuza
Lack of flat land and limited housing space, the Yakuza and the ‘Bubble Era’, Yakuza involvement in the construction and nuclear industries.
Chapter 3: Japan’s nuclear power industry
Promotion of nuclear power in the 1950s and 1960s, influence of two powerful politicians, bribery of poor areas of Japan to induce acceptance of nuclear power plants.
Chapter 4: Earthquakes, tsunami, nuclear power and Japan’s 9/11
Earthquakes and tsunami over the centuries, the author’s experience of the Mar 11 earthquake.
Chapter 5: Fukushima Dai-ichi Denpatsu
Fukushima Dai-ichi, sequence of the meltdowns after the tsunami hit, close calls at other nuclear reactors, radiation releases, incineration of nuclear-tainted material.
Chapter 6: Radiation, the exclusion zone, cover ups and secrecy
Radiation, the exclusion zone, cover ups and denial, effects of low-level radiation, Chernobyl radiation data applied to the Fukushima releases.
Chapter 7: Now, where have we heard this before?
Cultural motifs and behaviour detailed in Chapters 1 and 2 that reappeared after the meltdowns occurred. Explanation of Japanese authorities’ behaviour that seemed odd to foreign observers.
Chapter 8: The future of nuclear power
The future of nuclear power: earthquake faults throughout Japan, effects of the Fukushima meltdown on other countries, examination of all stages of uranium-based nuclear power – mining, enrichment, and construction costs, through to decommissioning and deep geological repositories.
Chapter 9: Renewables and nuclear power on a warming planet
Renewables and nuclear energy on a warming planet: The Stern Report, the use of coal, oil resources, food production, methane gasses, externalities created by fossil fuel use, modelled consequences of each degree rise in temperature, political inaction, witch-hunt by fossil fuel-connected corporations, energy efficiency, solar and wind power positive developments, energy storage, polarised debate.
Chapter 10: Innovation, cautious optimism and a polarised debate
Changes that need to happen to prevent climate disaster, renewables, hopeful developments, energy storage.
Chapter 11: The coming Kanto earthquake
Edo − origins of the city. Tokyo as a modern metropolis. The coming Kanto earthquake: crustal plates, Mount Fuji, lack of preparedness for a big quake, wooden suburbs, description of the 1923 quake, reclaimed land, Tokyo Bay industry, likely consequences, dearth of individual initiative, likely costs, concentration of political and economic power in one area, Japans chokeholds in key hi-tech products, likely repatriation of Japanese bonds held in the US.
Chapter 12: Consequences
The consequences of a repatriation of Japanese treasuries from the United States, in order to pay for rebuilding costs in Tokyo, Fukushima influence on world nuclear power usage, and the main themes of the book revisited.