Ko Sasaki / The New York Times

March 8, 2017

Former Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan to Visit Cornell Campus

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Naoto Kan, the Prime Minister of Japan from 2010 to 2011, including during the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, will speak at Cornell in the Statler Auditorium on March 28.

Kan’s lecture, “The Truth about the Nuclear Disaster in Fukushima and the Future of Renewable Energy,” will provide an inside look into the Japanese crisis management center following the tsunami that triggered reactor meltdowns in the Fukushima nuclear power plant in March of 2011.

“The future existence of Japan as a whole was at stake,” Kan said of the disaster in an interview with The Telegraph.

Though Kan has faced severe criticism for how he handled the disaster, his new book, “My Nuclear Nightmare,” published by Cornell University Press, details the harrowing discussions and decisions that he and his staff made in the days after the meltdown.

“There was so little precise information coming in,” Kan said. “It was very difficult to make clear judgments.”

Considered to be the worst nuclear disaster in history, along with Chernobyl, the Fukushima meltdown nearly threatened Tokyo.

“We were only able to avert a 250-kilometer evacuation zone [around the plant] by a wafer-thin margin,” Kan explained.

The disaster caused the evacuation of over 400,000 people and some studies suggest higher instances of childhood cancer in the surrounding region, according to The Telegraph.

Though he initially ran on a platform of nuclear energy, Kan said the experience completely changed his opinion.

“Having experienced the situation which came so close to requiring me to order the evacuation of 50 million people, my view is now changed 180 degrees,” Kan wrote in an article for The Huffington Post. “There are no other events except for wars that would require the evacuation of tens of millions of people.”

Though current Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has restarted Japan’s nuclear power program, Kan remains fearful of a second disaster.

“For the sake of the human race and of our planet earth, the desirable path is for the entire world to walk in the direction of zero nuclear reliance,” Kan wrote. “I have become firmly convinced of that.”

Taking place in the Statler Auditorium at 5 p.m. on March 28, this event is hosted by the Einaudi Center for International Studies and will be free and open to the public.