Last year (1956) "the Atomic Energy Basic Law" was enacted, and the Atomic Energy Commission was established. Then, a number of significant changes happened to the domestic as well as international situations about nuclear energy.
Being triggered by the first Atoms for Peace Conference held in August previous year, nuclear boom arrived. On January 1, "the Atomic Energy Basic Law" was established, and the JAEC started [as described by Yukawa]. Matsutaro Shoriki was appointed the first chairman of the JAEC. Atomic Energy Bureau was also inaugurated under Prime Minister's Office. Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute (JAERI; presently, Japan Atomic Energy Agency) and Nuclear Fuel Corporation were launched in May and August. On the other hand, an industry group established Japan Atomic Industrial Forum (presently, Japan Atomic Industrial Association) in March. The followings happened overseas: The No. 1 reactor of the Calder Hall nuclear power station in Britain started the sending of power in May, and the General Assembly of United Nations adopted the Charter of the International Atomic Energy Agency on October 23.
[. . .] the problems of preventing danger and controlling conditions for health will become important. We have to make every effort to solve these problems.
The next stage should be the one in which researchers and technicians in our country have to show more creativity and autonomy. For this purpose, it is necessary at least to go through the steps of domestic designing and manufacturing of reactors, production of fuel, establishing the method of spent fuel disposal, etc.
It is clear that we are no longer allowed to leave the issue of nuclear power indefinitely on the desk.
Because such a sudden change of the situation is also expected to occur in the future, hastening should be avoided concerning power reactors. It would be quite uncomfortable that, while some people are making preparations for raising seedlings, the other people suddenly appear with cut flowers from a shop.
In the Western world, there is a saying, "Make haste slowly." In Japan we also have the proverb, "Haste makes waste."* With respect to nuclear power, these words fit quite well to the point. [. . .] At the same time, we have to think about nuclear weapons, which is the largest obstacle to the peaceful use of nuclear energy. We Japanese should make every effort more intensely than before to eliminate them from all over the world as soon as possible, on this occasion of our country's having joined the United Nations.
An official's testimony has made this clear: Forty years ago, Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant of Tokyo Electric Power Company prepared emergency power generators in the basement by adopting "the American design," which had been developed against hurricanes and tornadoes, and this made accidents extremely large. The underground of the power plant was entirely soaked in water by the tsunami more than 10 meters high and lost all electric power sources at once.
* Note by the present author: The Japanese proverb is literally translated as "When in haste, take the roundabout way." However, this is too long to be used as the translation of the subtitle of Yukawa's essay, so that it has been replaced by another saying in English of the same meaning.
- Nuclear Chronology: 1956, Web site of Research Organization for Information Science & Technology, in Japanese.
- Wrong adoption of "American design" for nuclear reactors: Generators in the basement against hurricanes, Asahi Shimbun, Evening edition (June 11, 2011) in Japanese.