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Japan

Why Onagawa Nuclear Power Station Survived the Tsunami 148

Posted by timothy
from the pure-driving-will dept.
Kyusaku Natsume writes "While the town of Onagawa, Miyagi Prefecture, was hit hard by the March 2011 tsunami, the nuclear plant it shares with the equally devastated city of Ishinomaki survived. The reason it did so is mostly down to the personal strength and tenacity of one Yanosuke Hirai, who passed away in 1986 and insisted that the plant should have been protected by a 14.8 m tall seawall. A great quote from the article: 'Corporate ethics and compliance may be similar, but their cores are different, from the perspective of corporate social responsibility, we cannot say that there is no need to question a company's actions just because they are not a crime under the law.'"
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Why Onagawa Nuclear Power Station Survived the Tsunami

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  • Legality (Score:5, Insightful)

    by macraig (621737) <`mark.a.craig' `at' `gmail.com'> on Saturday March 31, 2012 @10:37PM (#39538527)

    Laws and legal liability are a subset of social ethics. Just because you can do something legally isn't a vindication that you should do it.

  • Re:Legality (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hey! (33014) on Saturday March 31, 2012 @10:44PM (#39538545) Homepage Journal

    Laws and legal liability are a subset of social ethics. Just because you can do something legally isn't a vindication that you should do it.

    Laws and legal liability *intersect* social ethics. There are cases where complying with law or regulations would be unethical.

  • Huzzah! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tqk (413719) <s.keeling@mail.com> on Saturday March 31, 2012 @10:50PM (#39538571)

    ... we cannot say that there is no need to question a company's actions just because they are not a crime under the law.

    The spirit of the Samurai still lives. This is good. I'd thought MacArthur had bled that out of the Japanese.

  • Re:Huzzah! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ColdWetDog (752185) on Saturday March 31, 2012 @11:05PM (#39538613) Homepage

    The spirit of the Samurai still lives. This is good. I'd thought MacArthur had bled that out of the Japanese.

    Samurai were conservative engineers? Who knew? I thought they were a warrior race. Did they wear the Medieval Japanese equivalent of a pocket protector?

  • by wickerprints (1094741) on Saturday March 31, 2012 @11:16PM (#39538651)

    The right thing to do is not necessarily the profitable or expedient thing to do.

    To quote Richard Feynman, "For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled." Engineering must NEVER have its integrity compromised by issues of money, politics, law, marketing, religion, bureaucracy, or superstition. History repeatedly teaches this to us and yet we still obstinately refuse to learn. And the result is that people are injured or killed.

  • Re:Legality (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Saturday March 31, 2012 @11:28PM (#39538687)

    it works the other way, too.

    just because someone bought a law decrying X to be illegal does not mean its immoral to so X.

    in fact, if the law is recent enough, likely THE LAW is unethical and the behavior perfectly fine. very likely, given our back-assward world we now live in.

  • Social Contracts (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MrKaos (858439) on Saturday March 31, 2012 @11:35PM (#39538723) Journal
    Too often, in corporations, we see that it is up to the individual making sacrifices to their career to make a company fulfil it's social contract to operate ethically to make profit.

    I wonder if TEPCO will attempt to claim credit for something they didn't want to do.

  • Re:Huzzah! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tqk (413719) <s.keeling@mail.com> on Saturday March 31, 2012 @11:46PM (#39538759)

    The spirit of the Samurai still lives. This is good. I'd thought MacArthur had bled that out of the Japanese.

    Samurai were conservative engineers? Who knew? I thought they were a warrior race.

    Wikipedia: "From the earliest times, the Samurai felt that the path of the warrior was one of honor, emphasizing duty to one's master, and loyalty unto death." That's what I was talking about. He didn't just "build to code." He built what he believed was necessary to satisfy the requirements of the situation. He was also proved right.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Saturday March 31, 2012 @11:57PM (#39538787) Journal
    I think that Feynman, while he has a nice point, is really far too optimistic in saying that we 'refuse to learn'. There are, certainly, examples of engineering fuckups caused by genuine failures of understanding or lack of information; but there is also the common instance where the 'we' making the decision knows full well that they won't be the people who get injured or killed(or even subjected to civil or criminal liability) and so make the perfectly value-rational decision to go ahead and do it.

    There are ignorance problems and there are malice problems(and, hovering somewhere between the two, there are the gamblers who take on risks that turn out to go badly)...
  • by lennier1 (264730) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @12:19AM (#39538831)

    Better safety measures to protect their million/billion dollar assets are very much in their interest.

  • by Tablizer (95088) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @12:22AM (#39538837) Journal

    They should build a giant statue of Yanosuke Hirai as a reminder. My organization needs one also.

  • by lkcl (517947) <lkcl@lkcl.net> on Sunday April 01, 2012 @01:50AM (#39539089) Homepage

    If you've read Professor Yunus's Book, "Creating a World without Poverty" in which he describes the concept of "Social Business" as an alternative to pathological profit-maximisation, you will fully appreciate his interpretation of "Corporate Social Responsibility" being synonymous with "Corporate Financial *irresponsibility*".

    the damage caused by allowing Corporations to get so out of control at a National (and an International) level should by now be quite obvious, with these kinds of examples such as Fukushima. there is an alternative pathogen which consumes all resources and maximises its own gain to the absolute exclusion of all other considerations: it's called Cancer. Profit-maximising Corporations are a Cancer and should be treated as a disease.

  • by TapeCutter (624760) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @03:43AM (#39539417) Journal

    or even subjected to civil or criminal liability

    No, unlike software engineers, real engineers are legally accountable (at least in the west). If you sign off on a doggy bridge design and the bridge falls down, it will be shown (by other engineers) that you failed in your due dilligence, you will go to jail, you will never hold another engineering position on a western project. You will get sued in civil court, not just by the victims but also by the insurance companies that will have to pay to clean up your mess and build a new bridge.

    Politicians have nowhere near this level of accountability. If they are warned about (say) levees but ignore the problem for decades. When they inevetibly break at the hieght of a king tide, it's called a "natural disaster", "a freak occurence" or if they're really nailed to the wall, "aging infrastructue".

  • Re:Legality (Score:1, Insightful)

    by roman_mir (125474) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @04:37AM (#39539577) Homepage Journal

    You are right, I am NOT keen on democracy. USA had it correct - it wasn't built as a democracy, it was built as a republic. Democracy always leads to tyranny, not to freedom.

    It's very easy to have a majority to vote to trump the freedoms of the minority, and this eventually trumps freedoms of everybody, because it destroys the concept of freedom and gives tools to the government officials that they didn't have before that they use to take away freedoms from everybody.

    But in the beginning the majority of the mob is used to steal these freedoms from the minority in order to open this door, at first it's done by promising the majority to use government force to steal something from the minority and give it to the majority.

    Government is used as a legalised robbery mechanism, that's how the majority of the people in USA for example (over 50%) only contribute 3% of all income taxes, and minority contributes the rest.

    Same with all other 'social' programs, including Medicare, SS, whatever. But this is just a gateway for the government to steal freedoms from everybody and apply this power against everybody (TSA, DHS, Patriot Act, NDAA with indefinite detentions, extrajudicial murder by the POTUS, destruction of money by the Fed, etc.)

    I am NOT AT ALL keen on democracy, democracy never leads to more freedoms, only to tyranny, people knew this millennia ago [suite101.com].

  • Re:Legality (Score:5, Insightful)

    by iserlohn (49556) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @05:06AM (#39539661) Homepage

    Um.. did it ever cross you mind that the weathy has a responsibility to ensure that the society which is has benifitted from immensely is sustained?

    There is a moral argument for providing a social safety net (and by extension a working universal healthcare system), and then there is a practical one - a country where the majority of it citizens is not able to sustain a minimium living standard will be prone to widespread civil unrest.

    May I remind you that there were a time when government was small - social cohesion was usually maintained by force - and the living standards of the many were squalid. Are you seriously adovcating the return to those times (just so we can compete with China on cheap labor)?

  • by tp1024 (2409684) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @05:24AM (#39539709)

    While I'm far from disagreeing that nuclear power stations should be as safe as conceivably possible, what about the cities?

    18 Cities were largely or completely destroyed by the tsunami (others merely to some small part). This is where people lived, this is where people died. Where is the scandal, where is the outrage about exposing some 500,000 to the risk of the on-rushing water? Where is the investigation why it could be that almost 20,000 people died?

    There has been so much supposedly outraged talk about Fukushima Daiichi, about how anybody could expose the people to such risks, that it is grotesque that nobody is talking about the risk that was there, that was obvious, that killed people.

  • Re:Legality (Score:5, Insightful)

    by iserlohn (49556) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @07:42AM (#39540039) Homepage

    By your argument, Somalia must have the fastest growing economy on earth due to the lack of government intervention.

    The industrialization of America is not the result of less government - (in those times America has similar amount of industrial regulation when compared to its contemporaries). It is because America at that time had lots of resources, including natural resources and labor that has not been fully developed into an industrial economy. Similar to how China is right now.

    I hate to say this, but you're adding nothing to the argument. The thing we should be discussing is not whether to regulate - it is established beyond doubt in economics, especially after the events of 2007, that blind deregulation leads to extremely bad outcomes. What we need to determine is what to regulate and how to do it.

    Your argument that because government regulation may lead to some bad outcomes some of the time, so shouldn't be doing it all of the time is a logical fallcy and doesn't hold water. BTW, the proper way of dealing with government tyranny is to ensure that the constitution of government is accountable to the people, not to destroy the mechanism of government.

  • Re:Legality (Score:5, Insightful)

    by miro2 (222748) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @07:59AM (#39540113)

    May I remind you that there was time when USA had the most individual freedoms FROM government intervention (specifically between the Civil war and WWI)

    I don't think that was exactly the most freedom-filled time for those of us who are not white, straight, men.

  • Re:Legality (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jawnn (445279) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @08:53AM (#39540367)

    Um.. did it ever cross you mind that the weathy has a responsibility to ensure that the society which is has benifitted from immensely is sustained?

    - what crossed my mind is that this is exactly the kind of thought process that destroys the society by taking away people's individual rights and killing off the economy.

    The history of the United States would contradict your fairy-tale views. When the U.S. was it's most prosperous, when the standard of living for the average citizen was at it's absolute highest, the extremely wealthy were "suffering" tax rates far, far higher than at any time before or since.

  • Re:Legality (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Xyrus (755017) on Sunday April 01, 2012 @09:42AM (#39540645) Journal

    - what crossed my mind is that this is exactly the kind of thought process that destroys the society by taking away people's individual rights and killing off the economy.

    Your opinion is backed up by facts. Popular uprising and social unrest always results from the haves trampling the have-nots. You can either think ahead and plan for a sustainable system or you can pilfer by force through a robber-baron culture until people get pissed off enough to take to the streets.

    not by using majority to steal from minority. There is absolutely nothing moral or just about it.

    Nobody is stealing anything. It takes money to maintain a large nation, and it has to come from somewhere. You certainly aren't going to get it from the poor, which make up a surprisingly large percentage of this country.

    Sounds to me like your perfectly happy letting the rich rape the poor though.

    - May I remind you that there was time when USA had the most individual freedoms FROM government intervention (specifically between the Civil war and WWI) and that was the time when USA became the most productive country, becoming world's biggest creditor nation, exporting highest quality, affordable manufactured goods. All this, while increasing the strength of its own economy and making everybody who lived in it much wealthier (the dollar gained value by factor of 2, while USA still became the largest exporter of manufactured goods).

    [citation needed]

    Some of the worst economic crisis happened during that period, including recurring bank runs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_recessions_in_the_United_States). What your describing happened after WW2, and that's because we were one of the places with an economy and manufacturing capability still intact after the war.

    This was definitely prior to USA growing a huge government and destroying its economy and society in the process, while becoming world's greatest debtor nation not only on the planet at the time, but in history of humanity.

    That's the fault of congress and the wealthy that fund and control them. In case you hadn't notice, there aren't exactly many poor people in positions of power so your "tyranny of the majority" argument has no basis. Th wealthy are in control of the nation, and it is the wealthy who will drive it into the ground for their own benefit.

    USA is now bankrupt, only holding together by other nations providing it with the consumables that it eats without producing anything in return.

    We are not bankrupt. You're opinion is that we are bankrupt, but by any legal definition we are far from being bankrupt.

    And once again, you have only the wealthy to blame. They pushed to remove regulations and restrictions, and once they got what they wanted they shipped everything off overseas to increase profits, created entire markets on speculation, and trashed the economy and manufacturing in this country in the process. Sure, we can get those jobs back if we roll back labor laws to allow conditions like third world countries to occur here but I'm pretty sure that will result in some serious issues.

    There is no such thing as 'responsibility' of the few to maintain standard of living for many, that's pure nonsense.

    Well, at least not to a sociopath such as yourself.

    Voluntarism is the key, but it only works in a free society, there is no voluntarism in a totalitarian regime.

    Voluntarism doesn't work at large scales. Do you honestly think people will donate enough to offset the social safety nets in this country? Especially when almost all the wealth is controlled by a very tiny percent of the population? You're incredibly naive if you thinks so.

    Again: democracy leads to tyranny, that's what you have now.

    You really have no fucking idea what tyranny is. Grow up.

The first version always gets thrown away.

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