The work at the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant has been one crisis after another. I don't think there is any repair going on yet, only containment, and repair of the containment equipment and infrastructure. It's no surprise, really, that the plant is leaking contamination like a sieve. The task is more monumental than most people realize, and Japanese, like Chinese, try to avoid negative news and will variously edit information, ignore facts, spin things like crazy, and flat out lie to avoid losing face. In the meantime, their plan of action for the crisis is full of holes. No surprise there, either, first because there has never been a situation like this before so there is no precedent to reference, and second because the Japanese excel at muddling through. That's what they are doing at Fukushima. They are muddling through. Making it up as they go along. The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) is playing whack-a-mole trying to fix one problem while a couple more spring up. So it looks incompetent and unplanned. Maybe it is, or maybe it isn't.
The work there will go on for fifty years or so. They will not even be ready to start removing damaged, partially melted fuel rods for at least thirty years, so I wonder if the public's expectations are just wrong. Excessive expectations contribute to regular over-reaction whenever a new problem is reported, or revealed.
Of course, what do people expect? A perfectly safe, clean and smooth operation? Get real. Nuclear energy is dangerous and toxic even under the best conditions, and nothing is ever "smooth." But the best conditions for nuclear energy are better than the best conditions for any other kind of energy generation. Nuclear energy has the cleanest and safest record of any energy industry, bar none, hands down, indisputable, on the record, verified, absolute fact. "But what about the nuclear waste?" detractors regularly put out. Yeah, yeah, nuclear waste .... Hmm. Yawn.
So calls to abandon nuclear energy are easily cast under suspicion. I think environmentalists who call for its abandonment are at least disingenuous, and at most morons, liars and immoralists with an ill regard for humanity. Not to mention an illiteracy about the relevant technology.
Former Prime Minister Naoto Kan is roundly criticized by current conservative Liberal Democratic Party government critics for his handling of the earthquake and nuclear crisis. (Kan was prime minister for the opposition Social Democratic Party of Japan at the time of the big earthquake on March 11, 2011. The LDP and the SDP are the Republicans and Democrats of Japanese politics and culture.) The current conservative government is trying to make him a scapegoat for the crisis. For the earthquake too, if they could. But I think rather highly of Mr. Kan for saving the nation in the face of bureaucratic and industry inertia, dithering, procrastination and denial. It was LDP governments and bureaucratic culture that largely contributed to the corporate culture that allowed for the mistakes that exacerbated the Fukushima situation, which was built under an LDP administration. In fact, all the nuclear reactors in the country were built under LDP administrations, which have governed Japan for most of the last sixty years, with prime ministers regularly coming and going like a revolving door. The LDP wants people to forget their own culpability and focus on the bogeyman of their choice.
I think Fukushima is worse than the government lets on, but not as bad as the anti-nuclear lobby - especially the foreign anti-nuclear lobby - paints.