After watching one of the world's worst nuclear disasters in their own backyard, members of the Atomic Energy Society of Japan, a pro-nuclear association of nuclear engineers, are not surprisingly feeling much less confident about the safety of their industry.
Shoji Tsuchida, a professor of social psychology at Kansai University who analyzed the results of a recent AESJ survey, attributed the loss of confidence in nuclear power generation to the March 2011 core meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
The survey results were released Sept. 20 during a fall meeting of the AESJ in Higashi-Hiroshima, Hiroshima Prefecture.
"(The accident) shocked many AESJ members," Tsuchida said. "It is up to the AESJ how it can help build on that sentiment for improvement."
Questionnaires were sent by postal mail to 1,400 individuals selected randomly from the approximately 7,000 members of the engineering society. Similar surveys have been conducted annually since 2007.
The results of January to February 2012 surveys were compared with similar results from January and February 2011 to ascertain the impact of the Fukushima disaster following the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.
Only 23.2 percent of the respondents said they feel "secure" about the use of nuclear power, as opposed to 51.1 percent a year earlier. Some 20.6 percent, up from 7.4 percent in 2011, said they didn't feel either "secure" or "insecure" about the use of atomic energy.
Only 23.4 percent, down from 43.8 percent a year earlier, said they "can agree" with the view that "the safety awareness and efforts of those engaged in the use of nuclear energy are trustworthy."
"Nuclear experts have remained silent because of remorse over not having been able to prevent the accident," said AESJ President Shigeo Nomura. "We want to recover trust by thorough investigations into the disaster and activities in Fukushima (Prefecture)."
The nuclear engineers, however, remained optimistic about their overall industry.
More than 80 percent of the respondents agreed that it will remain possible, in the future, to ensure the safety of nuclear power plants. About 70 percent said that nuclear plants do not pose a threat to the future of humankind.
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