“This reality is referred to as a ‘risk society,'” Lee said in his biweekly radio address. “We now have advanced science and technology. Still, a failure to pay due attention to every single nut and bolt could cause a large-scale accident, wreaking serious havoc on the social system.”
He said the tragedy in Japan, which is struggling to contain high-level radiation leaks from nuclear reactors crippled by a powerful earthquake and subsequent tsunami, served as a wake-up call to South Korea.
Lee affirmed that his administration will continue making efforts to ensure the safety of the people.
“I am keenly aware, indeed, that the basic obligation of the state is to overcome danger and maintain public safety,” he said. “The government will faithfully keep the promise that the safety of the people has the highest priority.”
He reiterated that South Korea is immune to the radiation released from Japan’s reactors, citing the opinion that the radioactive elements cannot be carried off by the wind to the peninsula.
“Please do not be swayed by unfounded rumors or unscientific speculations about a nuclear fallout,” Lee said.
He also said South Korea has little chance of suffering a Japanese-style nuclear crisis, as all of its 21 nuclear reactors were constructed with consideration of the biggest possible earthquake that could occur here.
But the government has already started a comprehensive safety check on all of the plants, he added.
Lee said South Koreans can learn many lessons from how the Japanese people and the media have reacted to the ongoing tragedy.
“In the extreme conditions threatening their survival, the Japanese people shared water and food with each other. In order to prevent further damage from radiation leaks, some people dashed to the dangerous scenes risking their own lives,” he said. “The international press praised the discipline, considerateness and devotion that the Japanese citizens demonstrated, saying that it represented the evolution of the human spirit.”
Lee also said he was very proud of a wave of condolences and donations by South Koreans for the neighbor in trouble.
“Through this tragedy, I believe that the two nations will become much closer to each other,” he said. “It is my earnest hope that the Japanese people will acquire the needed strength to quickly overcome their current calamities.” (*)