The Sept. 23 catastrophe at the Tokaimura nuclear plant in Japan is a new warning of the dangers inherent in this industry that come from a pernicious intertwining of big capital and the capitalist state.
The nuclear industry is a byproduct of the arms industry and not economically viable without state support. But this combination puts a technology that could threaten the survival of humanity in the hands of private business concerned only with profits.
This intertwining of the state and business, consolidated under the U.S. occupation, is particularly advanced in Japan. But it is the general trend in capitalism everywhere. In the United States also, President Clinton favors giving a new impetus to the construction of hazardous fast-breeder reactors.
The Tokaimura accident exposed the glaring indifference of the company and the state for safety of the public.
On Oct. 2, the company managing the Tokaimura plant was obliged to admit that the radiation leakage was at least 10 times what had originally been announced; some company officials said 20 times as much.
Although the plant was in a residential area, it was not marked as a dangerous site. It took the government 12 hours to issue a major alert of the danger to the population.
The press both in Japan and the U.S. has commented on the astonishing carelessness of the government and the company officials. But this is far from the first environmental disaster resulting from this deadly combination of the state and business. It will not be the last until the working people can wield control over the economy that determines their life or death. n