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Many people in the public opinion polls are opposed to the idea, and briefings are being held in various regions… but the Cabinet decides to promote nuclear power plants, ignoring the voices of “grave danger to future generations”

February 11, 2023
The government’s basic policy, which includes measures to promote nuclear power plants, such as rebuilding them and operating them for more than 60 years, received nearly 4,000 opinions (public comments), many of which were against nuclear power. However, the Cabinet decision was made on April 10 without changing the main outline of the policy. The major change in nuclear policy less than six months after Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s order to study the issue has consistently failed to address the voices of the public. (The Cabinet decision was made on October 10, 2011, without any change in the major nuclear policy.)

◆Consideration of voices within the ruling party

The TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident proves that humans have no control over nuclear power plants,” and “It invites grave danger to future generations.
 The results of the public solicitation of opinions announced by the government after the cabinet decision were lined with requests for the government to reconsider its decision. A total of 3,966 opinions were received in the public solicitation, which was conducted for about a month from the end of December last year, after the basic policy was decided at the government meeting. The government has clarified the contents of 356 opinions and their responses by summarizing similar opinions.
 The government’s response to the negative opinions on nuclear power emphasized that the stable supply of electricity is in crisis due to changes in the energy situation caused by the crisis in Ukraine. The government reiterated its explanation that it will utilize nuclear power along with renewable energy and other energy sources that have decarbonizing effects.
 Since the end of the public comment period, there has been only one major revision to the basic policy, related to nuclear power. Regarding the reconstruction of nuclear power plants, which had not been envisioned by the government after the Fukushima accident, the target location was elaborated from “nuclear power plants that have been decided to be decommissioned” to “within the premises of nuclear power plants that have been decided to be decommissioned. This is a strong indication that the government took into consideration the opinions of the nuclear power prudent within the ruling party.

Not listening to the voice of the people, “They are making fun of the victims.
 The basic policy was discussed by a number of METI experts. Although a number of committee members who are negative about nuclear power plants called for a national debate, the public’s voice was not heard before the policy was decided.
 After deciding on the basic policy at the end of last year, METI began holding explanatory meetings in mid-January in 10 cities across Japan where METI and other bureaus are located. So far, they have been held in Nagoya, Saitama, Osaka, and Sendai, and will continue until early March.
 Ruiko Muto, co-chairperson of the Liaison Association of Organizations Affected by the Nuclear Power Plant Accident in Miharu-machi, Fukushima Prefecture, commented at a press conference on March 10, “I don’t understand what the meetings are for. It is ridiculous that the meeting was not held in Fukushima Prefecture, a disaster-stricken area, and that they are making fun of the victims of the disaster.

It’s conclusory, forced, and unacceptable as a method of policy making.” It is unacceptable as a method of policy making.
 Opposition to the policy is also smoldering among regulators. The basic policy stipulates that the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) will conduct rigorous examinations and regulations as a precondition for utilizing nuclear power plants. At a regular meeting of the regulatory commission on August 8, Akira Ishiwatari, a member of the commission, opposed the transfer of the 40-year operating period, with a maximum of 60 years, stipulated in the Nuclear Reactor Regulation Law, to a law under METI jurisdiction, saying that it is not necessary. It became unclear whether a new regulatory system could be decided upon.
 At a press conference following the cabinet decision, METI Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura explained, “The basic policy was put together from the perspective of nuclear energy utilization policy and does not include safety regulations, so there is no problem,” and expressed his intention to continue with procedures such as amending related laws. Hajime Matsukubo, executive director of the NPO Nuclear Information and Documentation Office, who also served as a member of METI’s expert panel, commented, “They are forcibly proceeding with the conclusion that they are promoting nuclear power without listening to opposing opinions. This is unacceptable as a method of policy making.

People opposing the Cabinet decision on the basic policy in front of the Prime Minister’s official residence in Nagatacho, Tokyo, on March 10.

◆Attack on the Prime Minister’s Office
On January 10, about 100 people protested in front of the Prime Minister’s official residence in Nagata-cho, Tokyo, after the cabinet approved a basic policy that includes measures to promote nuclear power plants. In the cold rain, they called for “No new nuclear power plants” and “Don’t forget Fukushima. (Nozomi Masui)
 The event was organized by the Executive Committee for 10 Million People’s Action to Say Goodbye to Nuclear Power Plants, a citizens’ group. Members of six organizations, including environmental groups and labor unions, took the microphone.
 Natsuka Mitsuda, 55, secretary general of FoE Japan, an international environmental NGO, said, “In order for the nuclear industry to survive, future generations will have to bear a heavy burden and risk of accidents. We are firmly opposed to the cabinet decision that ignores the will of the people. Taeko Fujimura, 68, vice chairperson of the National Trade Union Liaison Council, said, “We have learned nothing from the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. The operation of aging nuclear power plants is absolutely unacceptable.


February 13, 2023 - Posted by | Japan | , , , , ,

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