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A future of litigation doesn’t augur well for Japan’s nuclear industry

judge-1flag-japanJapan’s nuclear restart stymied by courts Reactors switched on and off in campaign of litigation launched by activists APRIL 6, 2016 by: Robin Harding in Tokyo

A welter of conflicting legal decisions has left Japan’s nuclear reactors in a state of limbo as national energy strategy clashes with the courts.

The reactors are being turned on and off like light switches as activists file lawsuits, highlighting the tension between safety fears and energy supply, and raising questions about the role of courts in nuclear regulation………The Takahama shutdown was a particular blow to the industry because a court in the district that hosts the reactor had lifted its injunction against the plant. That showed how plaintiffs can try different judges, given the wide areas potentially affected by an accident.

The stop-start court decisions are a huge frustration to government policymakers, who last year set a goal of restoring nuclear power to 20-22 per cent of Japan’s energy mix……..

to Hiroyuki Kawai, one of the leading legal campaigners against Japan’s reactors, independence from nuclear experts and national energy strategy is the whole point of the courts.

“We tried leaving everything to the experts and what we got is Fukushima,” he says, arguing that one way or another, Japan’s nuclear experts are tied to the industry.

“The courts don’t consider energy strategy, they just consider whether a reactor should start or stop,” Mr Kawai says. “Thinking too much about energy strategy and government policy is what leads courts to error.”

Kenichi Ido, a former judge who issued an injunction against a nuclear power station in 2006 — well before the Fukushima disaster — said it was not surprising Japan’s courts kept coming to different opinions given the widely different views in society………That leaves Japan’s reactors facing a future of constant litigation — and Mr Kawai is revelling in it. “We’ll aim to get injunctions against any reactor that tries to restart,” he says.

With the Sendai plant operating, he recognises his alliance of lawyers may not stop them all. But, he promises: “There’s no chance of all Japan’s reactors starting up again.”

April 8, 2016 - Posted by | Japan, Legal

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