Peter Wynn Kirby
Peter Wynn Kirby
Peter Wynn Kirby is an anthropologist, Japan expert, and environmental specialist at the University of Oxford. He writes regular opinion pieces on policy and cultural issues for a range of top newspapers and magazines. He is the author of Troubled Natures: Waste, Environment, Japan.

Russia’s cavalier conduct around Ukrainian nuclear facilities is in keeping with its disregard for the rules of war and basic decency. There are now fears the Kremlin could order the detonation of a nuclear reactor or spent-fuel stores while pinning the blame on Ukraine.

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Instead of karaoke’s ‘empty orchestra’, the Tokyo Olympics have empty arenas. This might have been avoided had the Japanese government addressed the Covid-19 threat seriously.

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The nuclear industry’s history of secrecy and cover-ups is only one reason. Tepco’s incompetent and at times dishonest handling of the 2011 disaster and its aftermath has shattered what’s left of people’s trust.

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Japan has worked very hard to show that the post-tsunami disaster zone is safe for the Games. Yet the problems that led to the Fukushima crisis – lack of transparency, obstinate and out-of-touch leadership – are still evident.

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Japan must not continue with its policy of conducting only limited tests for Covid-19. The government was criticised for its opacity and mishandling of data after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear power plant meltdown. It must not repeat these mistakes.

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Japan rolled out a tangled Olympic welcome mat with its clumsy handling of the Diamond Princess outbreak. An Olympics fortnight, if it goes ahead as planned, would certainly qualify as any infectious disease expert’s nightmare scenario.

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