Naoto Kan, former prime minister of Japan, will deliver a public lecture as part of the Einaudi Center Distinguished Speaker Series, “The Truth About the Nuclear Disaster in Fukushima and the Future of Renewable Energy,” Tuesday, March 28, at 5 p.m. in Statler Auditorium.
When Kan took office in June 2010, he supported the use of nuclear power. His position underwent a radical change, however, after a March 2011 earthquake off Japan’s coast triggered a devastating tsunami.
The tsunami killed more than 15,000 people, displaced more than 200,000 and swamped the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, causing meltdowns at three reactors. The event ranks with Chernobyl as the worst nuclear disaster in history.
In his book “My Nuclear Nightmare,” published by Cornell University Press, Kan offers a day-by-day account of his actions in the week after the earthquake and tsunami. He records the anguished decisions he had to make as the scale of destruction became clear and the threat of nuclear catastrophe loomed ever larger – decisions made on the basis of information that was often unreliable.
Kan has played key roles in policymaking in Japan as prime minister, deputy prime minister, national strategy minister, finance minister and health minister. He was accused by the opposition and many in his own party of being too slow to acknowledge the severity of the Fukushima disaster. After a little more than 14 months on the job, he was forced out of office in September 2011.
Kan is not from the political elite. The son of a factory manager, he graduated with a degree in physics from the Tokyo Institute of Technology, ran a patent firm, then became an activist focusing on environmental issues.
Cornell University Press will organize a book signing at the event, sponsored by the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies and the East Asia Program.