Japan's Ground Zero": The Devastating Consequences of Government Inaction. Japan's searing summer of 2013 saw the lid slide further off Fukushima Daiichi and its Pandora box of radioactive and political crises. The company in charge, Tokyo Electric Power Company, (TEPCO), already Japan's most distrusted firm, was irredeemably exposed as dangerously incompetent. A slew of reports concerning leaks of high-level radiation led to increasingly concerned appeals, from within Japan and from overseas, for the Abe Shinzo government to take over at Fukushima Daiichi. The most recent opinion poll, released by the Mainichi Shimbun on August 25, shows that no less than 91% of the Japanese public wants the government to intervene. Clearly, Abe's August 25, shows that no less than 91% of the Japanese public wants the government to intervene. Clearly, Abe's August 7 gambit of publicly declaring "Tepco: shape up!" convinced few that he was doing enough. Indeed, while the Mainichi was in the midst of polling, Abe was being lambasted by an August 23 editorial in Nishinihon Shimbun. The editors demand he act, expressing open dismay that he would call for decisive action from Tepco given its shameful record of endless mishaps and denials. From beyond Japan's shores, The Economist depicted Fukushima Daiichi as a "nightmare" with "no end in sight," and the editors of Bloomberg addressed Abe directly with stern warnings that the site is "ground zero" for his government, insisting that decisive intervention is crucial in order to "redeem Japan's nuclear industry, jump-start its economy, and perhaps increase the odds of removing the radioactive pall over Tokyo's bid to land the 2020 Olympics." The August 28 Business Times Singapore spoke up from the East, and excoriatingly editorialized that "Mr Abe appears grudging in his occasional statements of 'regret' at the ongoing crisis but resentful that it continues to dent Japan's international image. Certainly, it embarrasses a country anxious to promote overseas sales of nuclear reactors and to bring other idled reactors back on line." The editors highlighted the proliferating "international dimensions" of the crisis and cautioned that if Fukushima Daiichi "is not an international threat, then it is difficult to see what is." Indeed, as the Business Times Singapore warned, the foreign media are not alone in being alarmed by the Abe administration's unwillingness to get a grip on Fukushima Daichi. Japan's neighbouring states and civil societies also evince increasing concern. South Korea's Asiana Airlines announced on August 21 that, as of October, because of Fukushima Daiichi, they would discontinue charter flights to Fukushima City. The situation is in fact so grave in South Korean eyes that the August 8 minutes of the Bank of Korea's 15th Monetary Policy Board meeting expressed concern that further mishandling of Fukushima Daiichi could make it a "black swan" in the larger context of economic uncertainty confronting the global financial economy in the fall. And results from the South Korean Gallup agency poll over the three days ending August 29 indicated that
78% of Koreans believe their country is already being impacted by radiation from Fukushima Daiichi.