The deep question is who are the victims? Japanese law provides for relief to Japanese victims or residents of Japan. But in this case the record of casualties will emerge only over time, and the tragedy may affect non-Japanese citizens as well. Apart from the basic fairness of caring for the medical and other costs associated with this tragedy, past experience with other pollution related diseases, such as Minamata (mercury poisoning), itai-itai cadmium poisoning, and air pollution-related diseases (asthma, emphysema, asthmatic bronchitis), demonstrates that an administrative relief system is a uniquely powerful means to assess the extent of the injuries. Japan's record confirms that when relief is widely available, the victims will identify themselves and their stories will likely show that the actual problem may be far more serious than the public authorities at first imagine. An international fund for the relief of illnesses and physical injuries, damages to property and the environment from nuclear-related accidents like Fukushima is urgently needed.
Engagement of UN and International Emergency Management Organizations--There is no global framework today for emergency management, especially for nuclear disasters. Fukushima presents an opportunity to create such a structure, drawing on the best available knowledge of emergency management and direct relief around the world. To date, the major international environmental NGOs have been quiescent about Fukushima. Now is the time for them to become engaged.
Immediate and accurate readings need to be taken immediately of alpha and beta radiation and these findings should be widely disseminated through Safecast and other initiatives. International Medcom, Inc., a company based in Sebastopol, California, has advanced technology to take precise readings and is already collaborating with Safecast.
Beginning in early September my colleagues and I will offer a free online course to support thousands of samurai explorers in acquiring the skills noted above. The goal is to build a "field of mind" which will stimulate imaginative solutions for Fukushima. The format will be online videos in the style of a mini-TED conference with commentary from experts. A basic reference is my new book, Piloting Through Chaos--The Explorer's Mind (Bridge21 Publications August 2013).
The Smart Explorers' Wheel will begin turning as soon as explorers start asking the difficult questions, some of which are posed in this memorandum. The Wheel gains momentum as it attracts new participants and sponsors. All the required knowhow and technology to design and to launch an Explorers' Wheel is ready. A sponsor's organizational package is available upon request. The Explorers' Wheel Program will offer a "Fukushima X Prize for Innovation" which should provide an additional and powerful incentive.
TEPCO, with support from the Japanese government, has a unique opportunity to seize the high ground. First, it can establish a trust to honor and to provide full and generous financial relief its employees and their families. (The Japanese government as noted already has in place a legal framework for the administrative relief of other victims.) Second, TEPCO should consider recognizing that Fukushima is a true international emergency, and consider calling on national governments and all the relevant UN agencies and its affiliates--The United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), the World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)-- to lend their support for an "International Innovators' Summit." The Summit could be hosted by the UN University in Tokyo in November/December, 2013 and would engage some of the most creative minds in the world to join TEPCO in the search for solutions. Russian scientists can make a particularly significant contribution based on their experience with Chernobyl.
The U.S. government, especially through President Obama's newly appointed ambassador Caroline Kennedy, also has an opportunity to strengthen its important relationship with Japan by providing scientific, technical, and financial support during this period of national recovery and transition.
If Senators Boxer, Wyden, or other concerned legislators decide to hold hearings, they should consider inviting members of the Japanese Diet to join with them as special "advisory" guests. Together they will call and question witnesses and help the Committee to develop a record. This would represent a unique event in the history of both countries.
In the Chinese and Japanese languages the word for crisis (C. weiji, J. kiki) is written with the combined characters for danger and opportunity. The unfolding tragedy of Fukushima presents not only Japan but also the rest of the world with a unique opportunity to undergo a shift in consciousness. Its driving force is the spirit of free, fearless, and compassionate inquiry and exploration.
The possible fruits of such a journey are boundless: new methods to predict natural disasters and mount effective relief; new strategies for creativity and innovation; new ways of using smart technologies, open innovation, and the Creative Commons; a deeper understanding that life is short, and in the end we only have each other.
Shifts in consciousness are frightening because they demand that we deal with uncertainty in a new way. Many may quickly dismiss the proposals set forth here as "infeasible." The unstated and unconscious premise is that uncertainty is the enemy; fear yearns for certainty and masquerades itself as reason. But what if uncertainty instead is the fountainhead of all creative breakthroughs and our deluded "knowing," the source of our dilemmas? If we can together achieve this breakthrough in consciousness and apply our insights in this crisis, future historians may well look back on Fukushima as the beginning of Japan's 21st Century Renaissance.
There is an ancient poem of hope and renewal which every school kid in Japan and China knows by heart:
"Although the Kingdom was destroyed, the castle grasses and mountain flowers are once again in bloom."
- Julian Gresser, August 2013; All rights reserved. Julian Gresser is an international attorney, inventor, entrepreneur, professional negotiator, and recognized expert on Japan. He was twice Mitsubishi Visiting Professor at the Harvard Law School and is the author of Environmental Law in Japan (MIT Press, 1981) among other works. His just published book, Piloting Through Chaos--The Explorer's Mind (Bridge 21 Publications August 2013) provides a blueprint on how to approach "wicked" environmental and social problems. Piloting Through Chaos--The Explorer's Mind is based on the author's "smart" technology which can support thousands of "samurai explorers" who have the imagination and zest to transform the tragedy of Fukushima into an opportunity for collective creativity, invention, and innovation. See: www.explorerswheel.com. This article may be freely copied, cited, and excerpted with attribution to the author. The author expresses his appreciation to Dan Sythe, George Lindamood, Carol Wolman, and Bill Moulton.
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