Friday, October 25, 2013

The Fukushima Problem

The aftermath of an tragedy is always a hotbed for problems. This is mainly because the tragedy overshadows all issues and becomes the center of media attention. Media coverage is a zero sum game; when you run a story it means that you are not running a competing story. However tragedies can sometimes have a positive effect by shining a spotlight on the difficulties a country is facing thus allowing the increased attention to provide an impetus for change.

Japan is currently facing some of the issues that come after a great tragedy. The Fukushima earthquake was a 7.1 magnitude earthquake that caused widespread damage and greatly affected a nuclear powerpoint. Radiation was released leading to the formation of a UN special committee to determine the safety and future of the area.  

The human rights issue at the heart of this situation is whether the government should evacuate the region because the radiation is harmful. The Japanese government is at a precarious position, the Fukushima region is economically important and mass evacuations would be both politically and economically untenable. Yet ethically it seems that even the slightest chance of harm should supercede any replaceable economic interests. Governments have always faced these types of questions; having to weigh the interests of particular groups of people versus the overall interest of the group. While no right answer exists the terrible harms of radiation would suggest that an evacuation is in the best interests of all.

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