【PART 2】 The Mystery of Fukushima: Why Japan Cannot Stop Nuclear Power Plants?


21】 Radioactive substances are exempted from Pollution Control Law!


It was the victims initiating lawsuits for compensation for damage who came to know these appalling facts in an extremely graphic way. I’ll give one example.

Probably no one at the courtroom scene could believe what they heard. In August 2011, a famous golf course (Sun Field Nihonmatsu Golf Club) located 45km from the Fukushima No.1 NPP sued TEPCO, demanding radioactive decontamination. This golf course had been forced by contamination to suspend operations.

At the time of the lawsuit, the attorney for TEPCO made this astonishing allegation: “Radioactive substances outside of Fukushima NPP premises are ‘bona vacantia,’ which does not belong to TEPCO. Therefore, it is not TEPCO’s responsibility to decontaminate the golf course.”

Everyone wondered, “What on earth is this attorney saying? Is he stupid?”

As the people expected, the Tokyo District Court didn’t accept the attorney’s allegation that TEPCO held “no responsibility because TEPCO didn’t own it.” However, it did not ask TEPCO to decontaminate radioactive substances either, giving an illogical reason that the ways to decontaminate and to dispose of waste were not yet established. Press companies reporting this verdict on the mainland were confused and bedazzled by the legal term “bona vacantia” (or ownerless goods) which the attorney for TEPCO used as a distraction.

The term must ring a bell, however, for those familiar with the issue of U.S. bases in Okinawa. When this kind of ridiculous verdict is given, there is always another logic behind it covered over by misleading terminology. The “governing act doctrine” in the Sunagawa Case, the “discretionary act doctrine” in the Ikata NPP suit, and the “third party act doctrine” in the lawsuit over noise pollution by U.S. aircraft — such phrases denote legal tricks that I’ve described above, just opaque black boxes to distract the general public.

I discovered that it was exactly the same for the NPP disaster. Recall, from PART 1, the exclusion clause of the Civil Aeronautics Act. As U.S. Aircraft are exempted from Chapter 6 of the Civil Aeronautics Act, any “illegal” flying cannot be punished. This policy is applied to the NPP disaster too. It has exactly the same structure. Japan has a legitimate law to control pollution, but the radioactive substances are excluded!

Here are the relevant citations:

Air Pollution Control Act, Article 27-1:

“The provisions of this Act shall not apply to air pollution from radioactive materials or the prevention thereof.”

Soil Contamination Countermeasures Act, Article 2-1:

“The term ‘Designated Hazardous Substance’ as used in this Act means any substance, including but not limited to lead, arsenic, trichloroethylene, and similar substances (excluding radioactive substances).”

Water Pollution Control Law, Article 23-1:

“The provisions of this Law shall not apply to water pollution caused by radioactive substances or its prevention.”

And here is the greatest trick of all: Article 13 of the Environmental Basic Act states that radioactive contamination is regulated in the Atomic Energy Basic Law, but nothing is actually regulated there. It was Yoshihiro Asakawa, vice editor of the monthly magazine Farmers’ Business, who pointed out this important fact for the first time in the July 2011 issue.

He plainly stated that when “farmer A” from Fukushima sued for contamination damage, the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) said that, based on the Article 2-1 of the Soil Contamination Countermeasures Act, “we have determined that releasing radioactive substances is not against the law.” (Shukan Bunshun – July 7, 2011 issue)

This explains why the lawyer in the golf course contamination suit made the claim that he did. Since it is not legally considered pollution, there is no legal obligation for decontamination or compensation. It can be applied to homes, fields, seas and air too. However, there would be riots if it was declared honestly, so the authorities pretend to compensate properly by creating an organization called the Dispute Reconciliation Center for Nuclear Damage Compensation. This organization sets the amount of compensation arbitrarily at a rate that is easy on their budget.