International Reaction to Fukushima Disaster

Josh Sharma
March 6, 2018

Submitted as coursework for PH241, Stanford University, Winter 2018


Fig. 1: Fukushima Disaster. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The first time the world had witnessed the power of nuclear energy was at the end of World War 2 with the use of two atomic bombs, Fat Man and Little Boy. These bombs showed the world the massive amount of energy that nuclear technology could produce as well as its destructive nature. The end of World War 2 changed the focus from atomic bombs to nuclear energy. In 1953 President Eisenhower proposed his "Atoms for Peace" program where the United States agreed to give away nuclear technology in exchange the recipient countries agreed to only use the technology for peaceful practices. [1] With climate change becoming a more serious topic everyday, the search for alternate fuel sources has been growing, and nuclear power is seen as a possible solution.

Fukushima Disaster

On March 11, 2011, an earthquake struck off the coast of Japan which promptly shut down reactors 1, 2, and 3 as they were designed to. The earthquake itself didnt impact any of the safety features, however, it did knock out the reactors outside power supply. On site generators were able to power the safety features of the reactors up until the tsunami, caused by the earthquake, to strike knock out the generator. At this point, steam powered batteries were the last remaining source to keep the safety features of the plant afloat. Unfortunately this was only able to buy the reactors a few hours to a day when the safety features were shut down and the three reactors eventually overheated resulting in the Fukushima disaster as we know it today as seen in Fig. 1. [2]

International Reactions

The aftermath of the Fukushima disaster changed the way many countries view nuclear energy. There are still countries like France who still relies heavily on nuclear power as their main source of energy, as well as the United States and China who still have plans to construct future plants. However, Immediately after the Fukushima disaster, almost all countries announced a complete review of the safety of their nuclear reactors. Besides a handful of countries including the above mentioned, the vast majority are turning away from nuclear and shifting their focus to other renewable energy sources. [3] Less than a month after the disaster, Germany had shut down 7 out of its 17 nuclear reactors while Japan and Switzerland canceled plans to build future plants as well as announcing the future closing of several additional nuclear plants and making the switch to hydroelectric sources. [4] Although there are still countries that have not given up on nuclear power as a fuel source, there seems to be a global trend following the Fukushima disaster that is moving in the direction toward other renewable sources of energy and away from nuclear.

© Josh Sharma. The author warrants that the work is the author's own and that Stanford University provided no input other than typesetting and referencing guidelines. The author grants permission to copy, distribute and display this work in unaltered form, with attribution to the author, for noncommercial purposes only. All other rights, including commercial rights, are reserved to the author.


[1] D. D. Eisenhower, "Address Before the General Assembly of the United Nations on Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy," in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1953 (U.S. Government Printing Office, 1960), pp. 817-821.

[2] K. Anzai, "Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Accident: Facts, Environmental Contamination, Possible Biological Effects, and Countermeasures," J. Clin. Biochem. Nutr. 50, 2 (2012).

[3] T. McVeigh, "Nuclear Safety Worries Spread to Europe," The Guardian, 12 Mar 11.

[4] M. Eddy, "Nuclear Plant Closing Reflects Overhaul of Germany Energy Production," New York Times, 12 Jul 15.