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Saturday, June 23, 2012

March 2011 saw public lose faith in scientists


Public trust in scientists has declined significantly since the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disasters, according to a government annual report.

Among the reasons for the decline, the 2012 white paper on science and technology, released earlier this week, noted the lack of Japanese-made robots able to be used at the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear complex, and scientists' inability to predict the magnitude-9 temblor.

The survey also indicated that while about 65 percent of people still trust scientists, sharply down from the predisaster level of 76 to 85 percent, many scientists are unaware of a change in public perceptions. The number of pollees was not provided.

The white paper did not show a clear stance on the government decision to set the allowable radiation level for children at 20 millisieverts per year after the outbreak of the nuclear disaster, and its failure to disclose data on predicted dispersion of radioactive fallout collected by the System for Prediction of Environmental Emergency Dose Information, or SPEEDI.

Meanwhile, the government also issued an annual report on disaster prevention, stressing the need to incorporate the lessons learned from 3/11.

Touching on the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the 2012 white paper on antidisaster measures said it was regrettable that the prime minister's office could not obtain sufficient information amid the breakdown in the information collection and distribution networks, while the authorities could not provide sufficient support for evacuees.

The report also referred to a possible mega-quake whose epicenter is in the Nankai Trough in the seabed off central to western Japan, saying it is necessary to establish a system for smooth evacuation from tsunami and prompt antidisaster education.

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