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Women make up 80 percent of cancer patients aged 20-39 in Japan, study shows

By denying and covering up Fukushima widespread radioactive contamination, the present Japanese government is putting the population at permanent risk, and those cancer patients number will be increasing, not talking of the other ailments.
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October 18, 2019
Women account for around 80 percent of all cancer patients in Japan between the ages of 20 and 39, a study by two national medical centers shows.
The study by the National Cancer Center Japan and the National Center for Child Health and Development attributed the result to an increase in breast and cervical cancer.
“We especially want (women) to get properly checked for cervical cancer once they turn 20. We are seeking an effective support system for adolescents and young adults … based on age and gender,” the centers said in the report released Thursday.
The study, the first of its kind, analyzed 62,000 cancer patients aged up to 39 who had contacted 844 medical institutions across Japan in 2016 and 2017.
Children up to age 14 made up 4,500 of the 62,000 patients, with the majority of them boys. Half of the children had leukemia or brain tumors, and a small number were diagnosed with rare cancers.
Of the 56,000 patients who were 20 or older, 44,000 — or 78.6 percent — were women.
While cancer types varied depending on age and gender, an analysis of patients in the very early stage of their diseases showed that cervical cancer accounted for the most cases, followed by breast cancer, the centers said.

October 20, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , | 3 Comments

North Korea alleges ‘nuclear weaponization’ by Japan as Trump-Kim summit draws near

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Televisions at an electronics store in Tokyo display a news broadcast about a North Korean missile launch in November 2017.
Feb 25, 2019
In a commentary published Saturday in the Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the North’s ruling party criticized what it claimed were “voices for the revision of the constitution and increased military spending and nuclear weaponization” from within the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Japan, the only country to have endured a nuclear attack, has long maintained that it adheres to its three nonnuclear principles of not possessing, not producing and not permitting the introduction of nuclear weapons. However, the government admitted in 2010 that previous administrations had lied to the public for decades about atomic weapons, after a government-appointed panel confirmed the existence of secret Cold War-era agreements allowing the U.S. to bring them into the country.
Japan has ramped up military spending and the acquisition of sophisticated weapons in recent years, spending around 1 percent of its gross domestic product on the Self-Defense Forces — which, given the size of its economy, makes it one of the world’s biggest military spenders.
Experts say Japan, with its civilian nuclear program, fissile materials and existing weaponization technology, could probably develop a small arsenal of nuclear devices within a year if there was motivation to do so.
Read more:

March 1, 2019 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Japanese gov’t plan to export nuclear power technology to Turkey floundering

Japanese gov’t plan to export nuclear power technology floundering
 
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A planned nuclear plant construction site is seen in Sinop, northern Turkey, in this 2012 file photo.
 
TOKYO — The Japanese government’s strategy to export nuclear power technology has run aground amid rising safety costs and deteriorating prospects for project profitability. While the government has aimed to maintain the country’s nuclear technology and expert resources through construction of atomic reactors abroad amid stalled nuclear plant development at home, its projects with Turkey and Britain have both hit snags.
“The Turkish government is in the midst of evaluating the project. I believe it will respond to us in some way or other,” said Shunichi Miyanaga, president of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., in mid-December about a plan to build a nuclear power plant in Sinop, northern Turkey. Miyanaga’s comment suggested that the fate of the project had been left up to the Turkish government.
At the end of July last year, Mitsubishi Heavy told the Turkish government that the cost of the project would total somewhere around 5 trillion yen, more than doubling from the original estimate of roughly 2.1 trillion yen. As the plan envisages recovering the costs through profits from power generation at the nuclear facility, it would not become profitable unless Turkey purchases the generated electricity at a higher price than originally expected. If Turkey does not comply with the increased burden, Japan would withdraw from the plan.
The nuclear plant project was pitched by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to then Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2013. At the time, Abe vowed at a press conference in Ankara, “We will share our experiences and lessons from the (2011) disaster at the nuclear plant (run by the Tokyo Electric Power Co. in Fukushima) with the rest of the world, and will strive to contribute to enhancing the safety of nuclear power generation.”
However, the catastrophe prompted the international community to turn a wary eye toward nuclear power, leaving the costs for safety measures at nuclear plants to swell. The steep fall in the Turkish lira over the past year by more than 30 percent also added to the project’s deteriorating profitability.
Under these circumstances, Tokyo plans to propose to Ankara that it would provide comprehensive energy cooperation in such spheres as coal-fired thermal power generation and liquefied natural gas, in place of the atomic plant project. Because the nuclear power project is based on an agreement struck by both leaders, such a proposal by Tokyo could face a backlash from Ankara, but Japan’s focus is already shifting to how to withdraw from the project without undermining bilateral diplomatic ties with Turkey.
Meanwhile, a nuclear plant construction project undertaken by Hitachi Ltd. on the Isle of Anglesey in central Britain has also run into rough waters, after the project’s costs soared to approximately 3 trillion yen, about 1.5 times the initial estimate.
In May last year, Hitachi Chairman Hiroaki Nakanishi held talks with British Prime Minister Theresa May, where the latter agreed to expand her government’s support for the project. However, British citizens have been wary of the scheme out of concern that it could lead to rising electricity bills should Japan’s request to raise the sale price of electricity be accepted.
As the May administration is suffering from sagging approval ratings amid turmoil over Britain’s exit from the European Union, it is becoming increasingly difficult for London to comply with an increased burden. At home, Japanese companies are also becoming more reluctant to invest in the project out of fears of poor profitability and accident risks. Given the circumstances, Tokyo is also likely to exit the project.
The Abe administration has made the export of nuclear power technology a pillar of its growth strategy, but to little avail thus far. While the government intends to pursue measures to counter China and Russia’s aggressive drive to export nuclear plants by stepping up financial support for partner countries and through other measures, such a strategy may end up bringing more harm than good.
“The empirical values of China and Russia, where nuclear power plants are still being built, are considerably high (compared with other countries including Japan),” said Tomoko Murakami of the Institute of Energy Economics, Japan. In China, where 100 nuclear reactors are planned to be operational by 2030, state-owned companies are securing a spate of orders for nuclear power projects mainly in emerging countries, with the financial backing from the Chinese government. Russia also is said to undertake the whole process from leasing nuclear fuel to other countries to reprocessing their spent fuel, with the possible aim of boosting its diplomatic and security influence as well.
Officials in the Japanese nuclear power industry are finding a ray of hope in the Czech Republic’s plan to build a nuclear power plant, which has also attracted attention from China, Russia, South Korea and a joint venture of Mitsubishi Heavy and France’s Framatome. However, financial issues are again casting a shadow over the plan.
Tadashi Narabayashi, a specially appointed professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, warns that at this rate, “Japan would lose its own atomic power industry, and would have to import Chinese-made nuclear plants 20 years from now. It’s a critical situation.”
Meanwhile, a senior official of an economy-related government body said, “It is difficult for Japanese manufacturers, which can’t even build nuclear plants in their own country, to win confidence (abroad),” suggesting that the government’s strategy to export nuclear power technology in itself is unreasonable.
 
Gov’t to give up plan to export nuclear power reactors to Turkey
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In this Nov. 6, 2018 file photo, Japan’s Prime Minister Abe, right, shakes hands with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu at the prime minister’s office in Tokyo.
 
TOKYO — Japan is expected to effectively withdraw its plans to build a nuclear power plant in Turkey by asking Ankara to inject a significantly larger amount of funds amid ballooning safety costs — a demand Turkey is likely to reject — according to people familiar with the decision.
The Japanese government decided to ask for the increased coverage by Turkey as a final condition for constructing the plant. Under the current proposal, the plant is to be built by ATMEA, a joint venture of Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. (MHI) and French nuclear plant maker Framatome, near the Black Sea coastal town of Sinop in northern Turkey.
Besides the Turkish project, another plan to export nuclear power reactors to Britain by Hitachi Ltd. also faces difficulties. If both plans fail, a growth drive strategy of the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will collapse.
The Turkish project has its roots in a 2013 joint declaration for cooperation over the construction of nuclear power plants signed by Prime Minister Abe and then Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Under the original plan, four medium-sized ATMEA1 reactors would be built for the start of operation in 2023.
However, the total cost estimate conducted in July 2018 by MHI for the project more than doubled from the original projection of some 2.1 trillion yen to around 5 trillion yen. The price hike occurred amid rising safety costs following the 2011 triple core meltdowns that hit the Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, as well as the finding of an active fault near the Sinop site. In addition, the Turkish lira has gone down since the summer of 2018, eroding the project’s profitability further. Tokyo therefore decided to increase the sale price of electricity to be generated by the new nuclear power station in a bid to recover project costs.
It is expected to be difficult for Ankara to accept the new condition, because it would mean the Turkish people would have to shoulder a greater financial burden. Japan and Turkey will effectively discuss how to arrange Japan’s departure from the project. In a bid to sustain their bilateral relationship, the Japanese government and MHI plan to propose to Turkey provision of high efficiency coal-fired power production technologies and other offers.
Meanwhile, Hitachi, which also manufactures nuclear reactors, has acknowledged that it faces difficulties in completing a project to build two nuclear reactors in Britain. Chairman Hiroaki Nakanishi of the company told reporters in December that he informed the British government that the plan was “at a limit” due to a surge in project costs.
Both the Turkish and British projects have been pitched directly by Prime Minister Abe, but those once promising plans now appear to be falling apart.

January 7, 2019 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Japan signs trade agreements with Taiwan despite ongoing dispute over nuclear food ban

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Taiwan to seek understanding as Japan threatens to sue over food ban
November 29, 2018
Taipei, Nov. 29 (CNA) Taiwan will seek Japan’s understanding in a row over a ban on imports of agricultural and food products from radiation contaminated areas in Japan, the foreign ministry said Thursday, in response to a threat by Japan to take the case to the World Trade Organization (WTO).
 
Earlier in the day, Japan’s Foreign Minister Taro Kono told lawmakers in Tokyo that the government will not rule out the possibility of filing a complaint with the WTO over the ban, which has been in place since the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster in March 2011.
 
Kono’s statement came after Taiwanese voted on Nov. 24 in favor of maintaining the ban, by margin of 78 percent to 22 percent in a referendum.
 
Commenting on Kono’s remarks, Andrew Lee (李憲章), spokesman for Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), said the ministry will cautiously engage in talks with Japan over the referendum result to seek understanding and protect the bilateral relations.
 
The Taiwan government has to respect public opinion, as expressed in the referendum result, but it also has to make sure that its cordial relations with Japan are not affected, Lee said.
 
He said it is MOFA’s long held stance that any decision on the ban must be based on international standards, scientific evidence and the relevant WTO rules.
 
In addition, the health of the Taiwanese people must be taken into consideration, Lee said, adding that the final decision on the issue rests with Ministry of Health and Welfare.
 
In 2015, Japan filed a complaint with the WTO against South Korea over a similar ban and won the case on Feb. 22 this year.
 
The WTO said the ban was inconsistent with its rules against “arbitrarily or unjustifiably” discriminating against another country and recommended that South Korea take corrective action.
 
South Korea, however, has appealed the WTO ruling and has maintained the ban.
 
Taiwan’s ban on food products from radiation-contaminated areas of Japan, namely Fukushima, Ibaraki, Gunma, Tochigi and Chiba prefectures, was imposed in 2011 by the then-Kuomintang government and tightened in 2015 after products from some of the listed Japanese prefectures were found on store shelves in Taiwan.
 
Since the Democratic Progressive Party came to power in 2016, it has been considering lifting the ban on food imports from all the affected prefectures except Fukushima, but has run into strong public opposition to the idea. 
Japan signs trade agreements with Taiwan despite ongoing dispute over nuclear food ban
November 30, 2018
Japan signed five trade agreements with Taiwan on Friday, despite the ongoing ban on imports of Japanese food products that Taipei imposed after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.
It had been feared that the ban, which is to be upheld following last week’s national referendum, could upset trade ties between the two sides.
Yet Taiwan-Japan Relations Association President Chiou I-jen and his Japanese counterpart, Mitsuo Ohashi, chairman of the Japan-Taiwan Exchange Association – the closest thing the two have to ambassadors in the absence of diplomatic ties – still signed one agreement and four memorandums of understanding at the Ambassador Hotel in Taipei, signalling their mutual desire to overlook the issue for now.
The agreement pertains to the speeding up of customs clearance process for goods traded between Japan and Taiwan, while the four MOUs deal with a wide range of trade issues, including the exchange of patent information, business partnerships, trade in medical equipment and materials, joint research, and cooperation in promoting small and medium-sized enterprises.
All five were signed only six days after Taiwanese voters approved a referendum requiring the government to maintain a ban on food imports from Fukushima prefecture and nearby Ibaraki, Gunma, Tochigi and Chiba prefectures. In campaigning ahead of last Saturday’s referendum and in the days since, much attention focused on whether its passage would drive a wedge between Japan and Taiwan, especially when they are otherwise working to cooperate more closely on security matters.
According to diplomatic insiders, Ohashi expressed regret over the referendum result when he visited Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on Thursday.
Tsai reportedly described bilateral ties as “stable” and “close,” and said Taiwan hopes Tokyo will support its bid to participate in the second round of accession talks to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, an 11-nation free trade agreement in which Japan plays a leading role.
In the trade talks, Taiwanese negotiators raised that issue, Chang Shu-ling, secretary general of the Taiwan-Japan Relations Association, told a press conference after the signing ceremony. She also dismissed speculation that the food ban referendum would have any negative impact on bilateral relations, saying the trade agreements were a clear demonstration of close ties.
Japanese negotiators had asked Taiwan to ease the food ban on scientific grounds, while Taiwanese officials stressed the civic right of its people to affect policy through referendums.
On Thursday, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono told the Diet that Tokyo did not rule out taking the matter to the World Trade Organisation, which has already ruled that South Korea’s import ban on seafood from Fukushima and other parts of Japan is “arbitrarily and unjustifiably” discriminatory. South Korea has appealed the ruling.
China, meanwhile, on Thursday lifted its ban on rice produced in Niigata Prefecture, but maintained restrictions on nine other prefectures.
Taiwan’s representative to Japan, Frank Hsieh, previously said that if China eased its restrictions before Taiwan, the latter would be “embarrassed” because it would become the only place to retain a comprehensive ban on Japanese food products from regions affected by the 2011 nuclear disaster.

December 7, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment

Selective abortion and radioactive contamination in Japan

From November 2, 2015
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The Great East Japan Earthquake occurred on March 11th 2011. The tsunami reached shore 49 minutes later. Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant was hit and 7 minutes later lost all power and control over the reactors. We know now that 4 hours later, the nuclear meltdown had already started. The first explosion occurred one day after the loss of power.
Tragic environments that a thousands of children with disabilities and sicknesses live with as the result of the mega earthquake and the Tsunami followed by the nuke accident in Fukushima continues.  Fukushima Prefecture Health Management Survey reported the results of Thyroid Ultrasound Examination on 7 February 2014. 75 suspicious or malignant cases were found including 34surgical cases, one of benign nodules, 32 papillay adenocarcinoma, one suspicious for poorly differentiated cartinoma. Whenever Japanese parents fume over Fukushima radiation, they stressed their baby’s abnormality as the results of tragedy. And it has been long time debating the parental dilemma whether or not to have a baby from the fear of radiation after 311 in Fukushima.
From April 2013, government approved 26 flagship hospitals to conduct the noninvasive prenatal genetic testing (NIPT) which will results of increasing number of selective abortion of babies with disabilities, as same as phenomenological dilemma people in US were already faced.  Many people with disabilities have felt and do feel real threat to life. Violence against people with disability in Japan continues, or accelerates after 311.

January 24, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

The bizarre coincidence of two false alarms announcing the start of nuclear war

Japanese Public Broadcaster NHK Issues False Alarm Over North Korean Missile Launch
It’s deja vu, all over again.
Just four days after residents of Hawaii lived through 38 minutes of doomsday hell, after a false public broadcast alarm announced that a ballistic missile launch was headed for the island, only to reverse and announce later it was a mistake, moments ago Japan’s National broadcaster NHK’s app issued a false J-Alert to phones over a North Korean missile launch at 6:55 p.m. Tuesday evening local time.
The message, received by phone users with the NHK app installed on their devices, read: “NHK news alert. North Korea likely to have launched missile. The government J alert: evacuate inside the building or underground. “
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It then promptly corrected the error just 5 minutes later, at around 7 p.m.
After the false alert, NHK issued an on-air apology on Tuesday evening local time, saying “the news alert sent earlier about NK missile was a mistake. No government J alert was issued.”
“Around 6:55pm earlier we reported on the NHK’s news site and NHK’s news disaster prevention application ‘Pattern of North Korean missile launch’ but this was incorrectly issued. J alert has not appeared. I must sincerely apologize,” the news outlet wrote.
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The bizarre coincidence of two false alarms announcing the start of nuclear war is certainly suspicious.
The false alert came on the same day as the US and Canada planned to host talks in Vancouver over the crisis on the Korean Peninsula after a year of missile tests and threats from the North.
As a reminder, on Saturday, an emergency alert notification sent out to residents of Hawaii warning of an incoming “ballistic missile threat” turned out to be a false alarm. The error was blamed on an employee who “pushed the wrong button.” “BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL,” the emergency alert read.
The warning went out on television and radio as well as cell phones, according to Hawaii Gov. David Ige, sparking panic amongst some residents. A second emergency alert was sent to phones in Hawaii 38 minutes after the initial message confirming the false alarm.
 
Japan issues false alarm over missile launch, days after Hawaii alert gaffe
TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese public broadcaster NHK issued a false alarm on Tuesday saying North Korea appeared to have launched a missile and urging people to take shelter, but it managed to correct the error within minutes.
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The mistake took place at a tense time in the region following North Korea’s largest nuclear test to date in September and its claim in November that it had successfully tested a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile that could reach all of the U.S. mainland.
Pyongyang regularly threatens to destroy Japan and the United States.
But there were no immediate reports of panic or other disruptions following the NHK report. A similar gaffe caused panic in the U.S. state of Hawaii at the weekend.
Japan’s public broadcaster NHK’s false alarm about a North Korean missile launch which was received on a smart phone is pictured in Tokyo, Japan January 16, 2018.
NHK’s 6.55 p.m. (0955 GMT) alert on its web site said: “North Korea appears to have launched a missile…The government urges people to take shelter inside buildings or underground.”
The same alert was sent to mobile phone users of NHK’s online news distribution service.
In five minutes, the broadcaster put out another message on the website correcting itself and said no government warning, called “J-alert”, had been issued.
“This happened because equipment to send a news flash onto the Internet had been incorrectly operated. We are deeply sorry,” an NHK announcer said on its 9:00 p.m. news program, bowing deeply in apology.
Last Saturday, a false missile alert during a civil defense drill caused panic across Hawaii. A state emergency management agency spokesman attributed it to human error and a lack of fail-safe measures.

January 18, 2018 Posted by | Japan | , , , , | Leave a comment

Ryan Smith, alias Jon Doe, death in Tokyo

A very sad news.
This morning I just learned from a friend that our Rainbow Warrior Ryan Dale Smith had passed away this mid- December. How sad.
I never had the chance to meet him personally, but I did follow his Jon Doe Youtube videos, which I found quite interesting. I used to enjoy talking to him and looked forward to meeting him someday in Tokyo.
He had reported on Fukushima from inside Japan very courageously since day one during the past years. One of the very few to do it with quality and no nonsense.
 
Ryan Dale Smith was a rough uncut diamond shining by his wits and his sincerity. His deeply-felt loyalty to the working class shined out.
 
As Marleen Gillespie says: “Those who care so deeply for the needs of others often suffer from the pain of carying the weight of the world on their shoulders. The blessing they are to the world far too often also leaves a deep, unhealing personal wound. But, they must be treasured for the beautiful blessings they are, not the injury that took them from us.”
 
His Mother has left a message on his FB page Ryan Dale Smith if anyone wants to pay their respects to her and the family https://www.facebook.com/Jontube
 
We will miss you Ryan. Peace to your soul on your journey.
My condolences to his wife and daughter, and mother.
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Ryan Smith: Father, husband, communist
During the early hours of Tuesday, Dec. 12, Tozen Union member Ryan Smith (aka Jon Doe) passed away. He was 37.
He is survived by his wife, Makiko Kono, his 1-year-old daughter, Kayla, and his mother, Carrie Lester Plaster.
From Athens, West Virginia, Ryan studied journalism at Concord University. He moved to Japan in 2008 and taught English to adults and children.
Ryan loved to talk politics and never missed a chance to declare his commitment to Marxist revolution and his pride in his rural, working-class roots. His YouTube channel has over 1,800 subscribers.
But he loved nothing as much as his tiny daughter, Kayla. Since her birth, nearly every Facebook entry he posted included photos or video of her.
Just a random post on his account since his death gives an idea how loved and missed he is:
“As they lay you to rest this day I can only pray your restless soul is at peace. The impact your life had on so many cannot be ignored. May MK find strength to carry on your memory for Kayla. God speed, Ryan. I know the brightest star in tonight’s sky is you.”
But the best way to capture the man and his spirit is to quote something he wrote on the site two days before his death:
“I don’t believe in God, but I believe that humans have a special spark in them. I don’t believe humans have a soul, but I know there is a common feeling which binds all of humanity.
“I don’t believe in heaven or hell, but I know those who stomp on their fellow human beings have to hide from the rest of us to avoid being hung by a rope in the streets.
“I know right from wrong. I know it’s wrong the way capitalists treat working people. I don’t need a god or soul to understand that capitalists are bad people.”

January 5, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

Dynamics of Nuclear Power Policy in the Post-Fukushima Era: Interest Structure and Politicisation in Japan, Taiwan and Korea

Abstract
This article compares the different trajectories of nuclear power policy in Japan, Taiwan and Korea in the post-Fukushima era. The Fukushima nuclear accident ratcheted up the level of contention between civil activism and supporters of nuclear power in all three states. The result of this contention has been decided by the combined effects of two factors – interest structure (complexity vs simplicity) and politicisation (national level vs local level). In terms of scope, policy change has taken place in Taiwan, Japan and Korea in that order. This analysis contributes to a balanced understanding of both structural constraints and the political process in which each actor, and in particular civil activism, is able to manoeuvre.
Introduction
In the wake of President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s “atoms for peace” speech at the United Nations General Assembly in December 1953, the United States signed bilateral atomic energy cooperation agreements with its allies, including Japan, Korea and Taiwan. By providing those allies with nuclear technology, Washington intended to strengthen its defence and foreign policy, the centrepiece of which was the maintenance of nuclear hegemony and containment of the Soviet Union (Medhurst, 1997 Medhurst, M. J. (1997).
Atoms for peace and nuclear hegemony: The rhetorical structure of a Cold War campaign. Armed Forces and Society, 23(1), 571–593.[Crossref], [Google Scholar]).
Washington’s three East Asian allies, all of which suffered from a lack of energy resources, made nuclear power a major state-sponsored industry and relied on it for their industrialisation and economic development. The emergence of strong coalitions in each of these countries – consisting of conservative or authoritarian politicians, state-controlled or private electricity companies, and government bureaucrats – provided sustained support for the growth of nuclear power during the Cold War. When energy security was seriously challenged by the oil shock of the 1970s, nuclear power became the most viable source of electricity. Whereas fears of nuclear proliferation and safety concerns encouraged Western countries to retreat from nuclear power in the 1980s, reliance on nuclear power in these East Asian countries continued to grow. Not only did they become an attractive market for US vendors, but they also succeeded in developing independent nuclear power technology. In particular, Japan successfully developed its own nuclear fuel cycle technology, including enrichment and reprocessing (Kido, 1998 Kido, A. (1998). Trends of nuclear power development in Asia. Energy Policy, 26(7), 577–582.[Crossref], [Web of Science ®], [Google Scholar]).
Prior to the Fukushima nuclear incident, one-third of all electricity in Japan, Korea and Taiwan came from nuclear power. As of August 2016, there were 43 reactors capable of operation in Japan, six in Taiwan, and 25 in Korea. Japan has only two reactors currently in operation, but Tokyo is trying to increase that number. Nuclear power still accounts for 18.9 per cent of electricity generation in Taiwan and 31.7 per cent in Korea (World Nuclear Association, 2015 World Nuclear Association. (2015). Nuclear share figures. Retrieved from http://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/facts-and-figures/nuclear-generation-by-country.aspx %5BGoogle Scholar]; World Nuclear Association, 2016 World Nuclear Association. (2016). World nuclear power reactors and uranium requirements. Retrieved from http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Facts-and-Figures/World-Nuclear-Power-Reactors-and-Uranium-Requirements/ %5BGoogle Scholar]). Japan and Korea are also competitive exporters of nuclear reactors to countries that aspire to have access to nuclear energy.
The Fukushima nuclear incident of 2011 came as a shock to the nuclear power industry. Fukushima has not only escalated calls to “exit-from-nuclear” from civil activists in Japan but has also had repercussions around the world, particularly in Japan’s neighbours Taiwan and Korea. In the wake of the huge public backlash provoked by the incident, the three countries face the conundrum of how to enhance the sustainability of their economies while reducing their reliance on nuclear power. This situation prompts a number of questions. To what extent has the Fukushima incident brought about changes to existing nuclear policies in Japan, Taiwan and Korea? How has rising civil activism been translated into policy change in each of these countries, and what factors have been at work to convert the shock of Fukushima into a shift in energy policy? In addressing these questions, this article closely compares contentions involving different interest structures and levels of politicisation in the three cases. The interest structure under examination is the way in which the conflicting interests of supporters of nuclear energy and those opposing it are configured (complex or simple). The “level” of politicisation refers to the level at which the campaigns are fought (national or local).
This article is an exercise in inductive analysis, which seeks to use these cases to identify two factors that result in changes in nuclear power policy. The findings we obtain from an examination of the three cases are that the external shock (i.e. the Fukushima incident) has intensified contention; and that for a significant policy change to occur, the interest structure has to be simple (i.e. state-controlled nuclear power and the absence of new interests such as nuclear exports), and civil activism has to be able to cross partisan lines and raise contention to a nationally prioritised level.
This article consists of three parts. In the first part, we conceptualise the two factors that decided the policy direction in the three cases: interest structure and level of politicisation. In the second part, we outline the development of nuclear power and examine the development of contention between civil activists and nuclear power supporters in the three cases. In the third part, we identify some generalisations concerning changes in nuclear power policy.
Two Factors: Interest Structure and Politicisation
Despite common energy security needs and US support for the peaceful use of nuclear energy, nuclear power policies and the nuclear industries in the three countries under consideration have followed somewhat different paths of development. As a result, each case has displayed a different type of contention, but in all three cases government decisions and social consent have been equally important for changes in the nuclear power policy (Golay, 2001 Golay, M. W. (2001). On social acceptance of nuclear power. The Center for International Political Economy & the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy, Rice University. [Google Scholar]; Parkins & Haluza-DeLay, 2011 Parkins, J. R., & Haluza-DeLay, R. (2011). Social and ethical considerations of nuclear power development. Staff Paper #11-01, Department of Rural Economy, University of Alberta. [Google Scholar]). Changes in outcomes ranged from a minor adjustment of existing policy, through a significant change, to abandoning the use of nuclear power entirely. With this diversity of outcomes in mind, it is useful to investigate how the relevant actors – the government, pro-nuclear politicians (or political parties), electricity companies, and civil activists – have contended and/or coalesced with one another.
It is noted in the literature that the Fukushima incident brought about a big change in the public perception of nuclear power all around the world (Kim, Kim, & Kim, 2013 Kim, Y., Kim, M., & Kim, W. (2013). Effect of the Fukushima nuclear disaster on global public acceptance. Energy Policy, 61, 822–828.[Crossref], [Web of Science ®], [Google Scholar]). This change in public perception has led to construction delays and cost overruns that have interrupted the principal nuclear states’ attempts to lead a nuclear revival (Szarka, 2013 Szarka, J. (2013). From exception to norm – and back again? France, the nuclear revival, and the post-Fukushima landscape. Environmental Politics, 22(4), 646–663.[Taylor & Francis Online], [Web of Science ®], [Google Scholar]). Nevertheless, as it has become clear that the perceptual change by itself is not bringing about an immediate change in policy, analysts have also delved into the sources of policy continuity or partial change, including the impact of short-term interests (Nohrstedt, 2005 Nohrstedt, D. (2005). External shocks and policy change: Three Mile Island and Swedish nuclear energy policy. Journal of European Public Policy, 12(6), 1041–1059.[Taylor & Francis Online], [Web of Science ®], [Google Scholar]), the strength of links between governments and the nuclear industry (Fam et al., 2014 Fam, S. D., Xiong, J., Xiong, G., Yong, D. L., & Ng, D. (2014). Post-Fukushima Japan: The continuing nuclear controversy. Energy Policy, 68, 199–205.[Crossref], [Web of Science ®], [Google Scholar]), the way perceived benefits and risks affect public opinion (Park & Ohm, 2014 Park, E., & Ohm, J. Y. (2014). Factors influencing the public intention to use renewable energy technologies in South Korea: Effects of the Fukushima nuclear accident. Energy Policy, 65, 198–211.[Crossref], [Web of Science ®], [Google Scholar]), and the links between the social movements and party politics (Ho, 2014 Ho, M.-S. (2014). The Fukushima effect: Explaining the resurgence of the anti-nuclear movement in Taiwan. Environmental Politics, 23(6), 965–983.[Taylor & Francis Online], [Web of Science ®], [Google Scholar]). These individual analyses have their merits, but they have not systematically addressed the question of what mediates the conversion of an external shock into a policy change (or what impedes such a conversion). The issues we should examine are (1) the structure that determines the relationship between those who are deeply involved in the contention at a critical moment, particularly the relationship between supporters and challengers of nuclear power, and (2) the process by which the issue of nuclear power is politicised and those in power are forced to adopt (or resist) a new policy. In this article, we focus on these two factors: the interest structure (as structure) and politicisation (as process).
The first of the two factors, interest structure, may be defined as the way in which the competing interests of supporters and challengers are configured. The actors who support nuclear power and related industries differ from case to case, and the interest structure differs accordingly; depending on how the relationship between actors is formed, the interest structure takes on its own unique form, either complex or simple. This definition helps to identify the mode of contention between supporters and challengers. If the interest structure is complex, it is difficult for civil activists to fight against the supporters of nuclear power because a complex interest structure diversifies the battlefield and thus diffuses the activists’ ability to fight the supporters.
The degree of complexity of the interest structure is determined by two elements: type of ownership and whether new interests have been created. Specifically, ownership – whether nuclear power is state-owned or privatised – determines the degree of complexity. The form of ownership arises at an early stage in the introduction or development of the industry. Nuclear power that is owned by the state is mostly controlled by the state and thus has a less complex interest structure than privatised nuclear power. If nuclear power is state-owned and controlled, when there is serious contention over the issue, the fate of nuclear power will depend on government decisions. In contrast, if the industry is privatised and thus managed by electricity companies, the interest structure will be highly complex. Privatised ownership contributes to the creation of an “iron triangle” consisting of profit-seeking electricity companies, government bureaucrats who sustain nuclear power, and politicians who protect the interests of nuclear power (Vivoda, 2014 Vivoda, V. (2014). Energy security in Japan: Challenges after Fukushima. Surrey: Ashgate. [Google Scholar]; Iguchi & Koga, 2015 Iguchi, M., & Koga, M. (2015). Energy governance in Japan. In S. Mukherjee & D. Chakraborty (Eds.), Environmental challenges and governance: Diverse perspectives from Asia (pp. 219–234). Oxon & London: Routledge. [Google Scholar]). The iron triangle is complicated by the differing motivations of the actors, but it is collective and cooperative in the way that it promotes the interests of the nuclear industry.
Businesses involved in nuclear power try to create new interests by, for example, exporting nuclear plants, fuel and related technology. These new interests mean that nuclear vendors become a new promoter of nuclear power, thus strengthening existing supporters. This allows the nuclear industry to expand and create links with other industries, and in these circumstances, the relevant government agencies are likely to continue to support nuclear power and the advancement of related technology.
Hence, both private ownership of the nuclear power companies and export opportunities in the nuclear industry make nuclear power complex. They make any policy change exceedingly difficult, and any change that does take place is likely to be incremental and marginal in scope. If the interest structure is complex and as a consequence contention is diversified, civil activists must fight on many different fronts. If nuclear power produces new interests – that is, exports – supporters will benefit from uniting to continue to support the existing nuclear power policy, and thus civil activists will grow weary. Conversely, if the interest structure is simple, the activists will fight against a simple target – that is, a pro-nuclear government and a state-owned electricity company working as one body. If the target is solid, the fight may be tough. But if the target is in disarray, any policy change is likely to be drastic and far-reaching.
The second factor, the level of politicisation, addresses the level at which the contention between supporters and civil activism takes place: the national level or the local level. An issue that is politicised at the national level is more controversial than one at the local level, and it attracts broader public attention and triggers a tug of war between the pro- and anti-nuclear camps. The key point of contention is whether the existing nuclear power policy should be maintained or changed. In contrast, any contention that is limited to the local level tends to be issue-specific, involving particular questions such as whether a nuclear power plant or nuclear waste storage facility should be sited in a particular location. Contention normally remains with a locally specific issue, but it may often be elevated to the national agenda. Whether or not activists can seize and act upon such opportunities would decide the fate of the contention. At this stage of being a national agenda, the contention may become entangled in electoral politics, and the form of the alliance between civil activists and political parties becomes a critical factor in policy change.
Once the contention is escalated to and politicised at the national level, it normally securitises the issue of nuclear power in both the administration and the legislature. “Securitisation” means that administrative and legislative actors take up the issue as an existential problem in a given society. The notion of securitisation, which has been used in the study of international relations (Buzan, Wæver, & de Wilde, 1998 Buzan, B., Wæver, O., & de Wilde, J. (1998). Security: A new framework for analysis. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers. [Google Scholar]; Gerard, 2014 Gerard, A. (2014). The securitization of migration and refugee women. New York: Routledge. [Google Scholar]; Naujoks, 2015 Naujoks, D. (2015). The securitization of dual citizenship: National security concerns and the making of the overseas citizenship of India. Diaspora Studies, 8(1), 18–36.[Taylor & Francis Online], [Google Scholar]), is applicable to the persistent threat caused by both hazardous radiation and the difficulties of relocation, as exemplified by the Fukushima incident. Despite its invisibility, this threat affects people both physically and psychologically. Politicisation of nuclear power at the national level may also be described as securitisation. This means that nuclear power is not just a controversial issue but becomes a nationally significant one. For example, as Prime Minister Naoto Kan said with respect to the Fukushima incident, it would have brought about “a collapse of the nation’s ability to function” if it had been necessary to evacuate the residents of Tokyo (New York Times, 28 May 2015).
In identifying changes to nuclear policy, it is necessary to trace and compare the trajectories of the contention between supporters and challengers of nuclear power – and the combined effects of interest structure and politicisation – after the critical shock. Although this article is an inductive analysis, we attempt, in Figure 1, to summarise the trajectories of the contention in the three cases.
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The three cases have undergone changes to varying degrees and in different directions. The Japanese case underwent a striking change – that is, the elevation of contention from local to national level – but it shows the limitations of policy change when dealing with complex interests. As demonstrated by the gradual resumption of operation of the reactors that have undergone safety checks, any drastic policy change, such as the mothballing of entire reactors or exit-from-nuclear, is unlikely to happen in the Japanese case. The Taiwanese case shows a more intense political struggle which was undertaken at the national level and resulted in the highest degree of policy change among the three countries: the freezing of the recently constructed fourth power plant. Furthermore, following the victory of Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in the 2016 presidential election, the possibility of decommissioning the existing nuclear plants in the future has become even more likely (Focus Taiwan, 11 March 2016). The Korean case shows the least likelihood of dramatic policy change. Not only does civil activism mostly remain local and issue-specific and seemingly incapable of gearing itself up at the national level, but the industry has created new interest opportunities by exporting four nuclear reactors to the United Arab Emirates. The current progressive administration, which launched in May 2017, has pursued transformation in the energy mix, but has not officially declared that it will cease the export of nuclear plants.
Japan: Elevation of Politicisation but Increasingly Complex Interest Structure
Before Fukushima, nuclear power in Japan was characterised by a complex interest structure and relatively localised civil activism. From the inception of the atomic energy development plan in 1955, nuclear power had diverse promoters with a focused and common goal of expansion and technological advancement, a situation that for a long time disadvantaged anti-nuclear civil activism. The government offered business opportunities in nuclear power to the nine electricity companies, including Tokyo Electric Power Company and Kansai Electric Power Company. The main government organisations – the Japan Science and Technology Agency and the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI), and its successor the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) – played decision-making and supervisory roles. In addition, the long years of Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) rule allowed conservative pro-nuclear politicians to exercise powerful influence over local decisions concerning the location of nuclear power plants.
The convergence of interests between the government, electricity companies and politicians, even if they were driven by different motives, made nuclear power a state-sponsored industry (Kim, 2013 Kim, S. C. (2013). Critical juncture and nuclear-power dependence in Japan: A historical institutionalist analysis. Asian Journal of Peacebuilding, 1, 87–108. [Google Scholar]). The government was deeply involved in the expansion of the nuclear industry, and politicians in both Tokyo and the localities were closely engaged in the siting of nuclear power plants. The nine private electricity companies were beneficiaries of the state-sponsored nuclear industry. Just as in other industrial sectors, there emerged a so-called iron triangle made up of politicians, bureaucrats, and the electricity companies (Vivoda, 2014 Vivoda, V. (2014). Energy security in Japan: Challenges after Fukushima. Surrey: Ashgate. [Google Scholar], p. 142; Iguchi & Koga, 2015 Iguchi, M., & Koga, M. (2015). Energy governance in Japan. In S. Mukherjee & D. Chakraborty (Eds.), Environmental challenges and governance: Diverse perspectives from Asia (pp. 219–234). Oxon & London: Routledge. [Google Scholar], p. 227).
Civil activists were disadvantaged by the complex interest structure: diversity of supporters and state sponsorship. Most of their movements were both locally confined and issue specific. Against this backdrop, pro-nuclear supporters were able to achieve the relatively smooth expansion of nuclear-related industries. Furthermore, they succeeded in coopting cash-strapped local governments and residents. The prime movers of the cooptation were electricity companies and conservative LDP politicians, with both groups approaching council members and opinion leaders in the targeted municipalities. The central government also carried out public relations campaigns: placating local opposition through the legislation of subsidies that expedited the construction of new plants and related facilities. The subsidies were basically government funds, although the electricity companies contributed a significant portion of them through their taxes (Nanao, 2011 Nanao, K. (2011). Genbatsu kanryo [Nuclear power bureaucrats]. Tokyo: Soshisha. [Google Scholar], pp. 146–147; Kaneko, 2012 Kaneko, M. (2012). Ishitsuna kukan no keizaigaku: Richi jichitai kara mita genpatsu mondai [Heterogeneous space economics: The problem of nuclear power plants viewed from the hosting local governments]. Sekai, 8, 136–143. [Google Scholar], pp. 136–143). On top of this cooptation, the oil crisis – and the consequent elevation of energy security to a matter of national survival – contributed to sustaining the nuclear industry throughout the 1970s and the first half of the 1980s.
The Chernobyl disaster of 1986 increased public suspicion about the safety of nuclear power, and protests by activists against the construction of nuclear power plants ensued. One notable consequence of this was an increase in the cost of constructing new nuclear power plants and delays in their construction. Civil activists, however, lacked nationwide collaborative networks and thus found it difficult to gain widespread public support (Kim, 2013 Kim, S. C. (2013). Critical juncture and nuclear-power dependence in Japan: A historical institutionalist analysis. Asian Journal of Peacebuilding, 1, 87–108. [Google Scholar], p. 97). The supporters of nuclear power regarded civil activists’ protests as a NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) phenomenon rather than as a movement aimed at achieving a policy change (Lesbirel, 1998 Lesbirel, H. S. (1998). NIMBY politics in Japan: Energy siting and the management of environmental conflict. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. [Google Scholar]). It was not until the second half of the 1990s that several accidents in nuclear-related factories began to draw public attention to the safety of nuclear power: a liquid sodium leak at the Monju fast breeder reactor in December 1995; a fire at the Tokaimura reprocessing plant in March 1997; and an accident at the Japan Nuclear Fuel Conversion Co. in September 1999 (Yoshioka, 2011 Yoshioka, H. (2011). Genshiryoku no shakaishi [Social history of nuclear power]. Tokyo: Asahi Shinbun Shuppan. [Google Scholar], pp. 245–362).
To be sure, the Fukushima incident on 11 March 2011 was a critical shock. The incident triggered widespread calls for exit-from-nuclear from activists and the politicisation of the nuclear power issue at the national level. The composition of the participants in civil activism was different from what it had been in the past. Rallies demanding exit-from-nuclear were attended not only by the usual activists but also by housewives, intellectuals, students and middle-class workers. They were joined by anti-nuclear weapons activists who had been mostly silent on the nuclear power issue for decades. This represented a new convergence of Japanese civil activists.
As civil activism has gained momentum, the government’s policy and political discourse have changed to some extent, and a new business interest in alternative energy sources has emerged. First, from September 2013 to August 2015, the government, under public pressure, postponed the resumption of operations of the nuclear power plants that had been shut down for safety checks. Second, keenly aware of the significance of the nuclear safety issue, the government restructured the organisations in charge of safety, establishing a new body, the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA), in June 2012. The NRA is an independent organisation, in contrast to the previous nuclear safety watchdog that was part of METI (Ueta, 2014 Ueta, K. (2014). Nihon no enerugi seisaku wa kawattaka [How energy policy is changed in Japan after Fukushima]. Seisaku Kagaku, 21(3), 45–57. [Google Scholar], pp. 45–57). Third, METI led changes in the power system from early 2013 that focused on the liberalisation of the retail market for electricity, although each electricity company still retains its monopoly status (METI, 2013 METI. (2013, February). Denryoku shistemu keikaku senmon iinkai hokokusho [The Report of the Committee on Electricity System Reform]. Retrieved from http://www.meti.go.jp/committee/sougouenergy/sougou/denryoku_system_kaikaku/pdf/report_002_01.pdf %5BGoogle Scholar]; Asahi Shinbun, 11 August 2013). Fourth, electoral candidates from both the ruling LDP and the opposition parties have felt unable to openly support the government’s policy of dependence on nuclear power. For instance, during the election for the Tokyo governor, the LDP-supported candidate, Masuzoe Yoichi, expressed an interest in renewable energy sources, although his commitment remained mostly within the scope of the LDP’s pro-nuclear policy (Mainichi Shinbun, 12 February 2014). Furthermore, in July 2014, Mikazuki Taizo, a Democratic Party candidate who ran an anti-nuclear campaign, was elected governor of Shiga prefecture, which is adjacent to Fukui prefecture, the location of a number of nuclear plants (Japan Times, 15 July 2014). Fifth, some businesses, particularly Softbank under its chairman Son Masayoshi, have begun investing in alternative energy sources, particularly solar power; Son seems keen to exploit the potential synergy effect between information technology and the transmission of smart grid power (Japan Times, 19 April 2012).
Despite the above-mentioned changes on many fronts, the change in public attitude and strengthened civil activism have not been translated into votes for anti-nuclear candidates in most national and local elections. The pro-nuclear LDP was returned to power thanks to a landslide victory in the Lower House election in December 2012. The LDP-led government, having renewed its coalition with the electricity companies, is trying to bring those reactors that have passed safety checks back into operation. As of August 2016, two reactors were operating (Japan Nuclear Safety Institute, 2016 Japan Nuclear Safety Institute. (2016). Licensing status of the Japanese nuclear facilities. Retrieved from http://www.genanshin.jp/english/index.html %5BGoogle Scholar]). In accordance with this line, a report issued by METI on long-term energy policy states that Japan will bring its nuclear power capacity back up to 20–22 per cent of its total electricity output by 2030 (METI, 2015 METI. (2015, July). Long-term energy supply and demand outlook. [Google Scholar], p. 7).
By redoubling its efforts to promote the export of nuclear plants, the Abe cabinet is creating new interests for the nuclear industry, thus increasing the complexity of the interest structure and cancelling out the effects of mushrooming civil activism. Taking advantage of the 2007 US–India Civil Nuclear Agreement (India Review, 1 November 2008, pp. 2–6), Japan had already begun negotiations with India on nuclear energy cooperation in 2010. Yet as soon as it launched, the Abe cabinet newly expanded nuclear cooperation with countries in Southeast Asia (e.g. Vietnam and Indonesia), the Middle East (e.g. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates), and Eastern Europe (e.g. the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland) that aspired to possess nuclear power generation capability (Center for Strategic and International Studies, 2014 Center for Strategic and International Studies. (2014, 20 November). Japanese nuclear policy background paper. [Google Scholar]).
At the same time, Japanese nuclear businesses such as Toshiba, Hitachi and Mitsubishi have sought export markets for their products, and their efforts have begun to bear fruit. In one example, a Japanese–French consortium – consisting of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and AREVA – struck a deal in 2013 to build a nuclear power plant in Turkey. The Japanese government regards the US$22 billion deal as a bridgehead to the nuclear market in the Middle East (BBC News, 3 May 2013). In 2014, Japanese vendors contracted with Lithuania and Bulgaria to build nuclear power plants (Center for Strategic and International Studies, 2014 Center for Strategic and International Studies. (2014, 20 November). Japanese nuclear policy background paper. [Google Scholar], p. 26). It is estimated that any nuclear export contract with India will be worth US$69 billion or more to Japanese vendors (Japan Times, 24 January 2014; Hindustan Times, 13 December 2015). To be sure, the exports would make a major policy shift even more costly. The new export opportunities make the interest structure more complex than it was before the Fukushima incident, a situation that is disadvantageous to those calling for exit-from-nuclear. With the new interests, promoters remain united.
In sum, in the post-Fukushima era, the surge in civil activism succeeded in elevating the level of politicisation of the issue, thus contributing to changes in national policy. In response to the rising tide of anti-nuclear activism, the government strengthened safety regulations and suspended the operation of nuclear plants (except for two reactors, as of August 2016). But civil activism has not been able to break up the coalition between the LDP-led government, conservative politicians and electricity companies since Fukushima. Furthermore, the export of nuclear plants has created new interest opportunities for nuclear vendors, thus contributing to the fundamental maintenance of the nuclear power policy. The Japanese government is unlikely to change its policy drastically, for example by scrapping nuclear power plants completely. Indeed, the government is trying to bring the reactors back into operation as it completes safety checks.
Taiwan: Escalation of Politicisation in a Simple Interest Structure
The Taiwanese case represents a simple interest structure and a high level of politicisation. The simple interest structure, based on state sponsorship, has remained constant since the establishment of Taiwan’s nuclear industry in the 1950s. The issue of nuclear power had already been politicised to a certain extent before Fukushima, and afterwards, in early 2014, fierce contention within and outside the legislature induced the government to decide not to bring the recently completed fourth power plant into operation. It is the existence of politicisation at the national level combined with a simple interest structure that has led to a policy shift away from reliance on nuclear power.
The development of nuclear power in Taiwan has been characterised by a convergence of interests between supporters, including the government, conservative politicians and the state-owned electricity company. The main electricity company, Taiwan Power Company (TaiPower), constructed and operates the nuclear power plants, and has remained state owned. Decades of rule by the conservative Kuomintang (KMT) ensured the establishment and continuation of a pro-nuclear policy direction (Hsu, 1995 Hsu, G. J. Y. (1995). The evolution of Taiwan’s energy policy and energy industry. Journal of Industry Studies, 2(1), 95–109.[Taylor & Francis Online], [Google Scholar]; Hsiao, 1999 Hsiao, H.-H. M. (1999). Environmental movements in Taiwan. In Y.-S. F. Lee & A. Y. So (Eds.), Asia’s environmental movements: Comparative perspectives (pp. 31–54). Armonk, NY: ME Sharpe. [Google Scholar]) and consolidated a network of interests throughout the nuclear industry. Professionals working in or advising the Ministry of Economic Affairs, which regulates the industry, and the Atomic Energy Council under the Executive Yuan, which is in charge of safety inspections, are mostly graduates of the same university department, which also aided the convergence of interests. The Institute of Nuclear Engineering and Science at National Tsinghua University is Taiwan’s only higher education department training nuclear technology specialists.
Taiwan initially wanted to develop nuclear power for military purposes as well, prompted by China’s first nuclear test in 1964 (Central Intelligence Agency, 1972 Central Intelligence Agency. (1972, 1 November). Taipei’s capabilities and intentions regarding nuclear weapons development (Special National Intelligence Estimate). [Google Scholar]). This ambition was soon frustrated by intervention from the United States and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Since then, Taiwan’s pursuit of nuclear technology has been limited to non-military uses (Albright & Gay, 1998 Albright, D., & Gay, C. (1998). Taiwan: Nuclear nightmare averted. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 54(1), 54–60.[Taylor & Francis Online], [Web of Science ®], [Google Scholar]). Furthermore, in contrast to Japan and Korea, Taiwan has recently made it clear that it has no interest in developing an indigenous uranium enrichment capability (Grossman, 2012 Grossman, E. M. (2012, 19 July). Taiwan ready to forgo nuclear fuel-making in US trade pact renewal. National Journal. Retrieved from http://www.nationaljournal.com/nationalsecurity/taiwan-ready-to-forgo-nuclear-fuel-making-in-u-s-trade-pact-renewal-20120719 %5BGoogle Scholar]). This implies that Taiwan has no intention of developing the nuclear fuel cycle; its only aim is to maintain the existing interest structure of the pro-nuclear camp. This distinguishes the development of the nuclear industry in Taiwan from that in Japan and Korea. Taiwan has a simpler interest structure than the two other countries, because it has a state-controlled electricity company and is not an exporter of nuclear technology.
Anti-nuclear activism in Taiwan has developed while forging close partisan linkages during the struggle for democratisation. By joining forces with the then opposition party, the DPP, the activists helped to politicise the nuclear power issue more than any other environmental issue. On the flip side, civil activists have been unable to make progress when they have failed to obtain DPP backing for their moves (Ho, 2003 Ho, M.-S. (2003). The politics of anti-nuclear protest in Taiwan: A case of party-dependent movement (1980–2000). Modern Asian Studies, 37(3), 683–708.[Crossref], [Web of Science ®], [Google Scholar]). Anti-nuclear activism experienced a major setback when the DPP came to power in 2000 and failed to deliver on its campaign promise to halt construction of the fourth nuclear power plant. This was because, despite the election of a DPP president, the party held less than one third of the seats in the legislature and therefore could not force through a bill to halt construction of the plant (Wu, 2002 Wu, Y.-S. (2002). Taiwan in 2001: Stalemated on all fronts. Asian Survey, 42(1), 29–38.[Crossref], [Web of Science ®], [Google Scholar]). Since then, activists have become increasingly disillusioned with party politics (Shih, 2012 Shih, F.-L. (2012). Generating power in Taiwan: Nuclear, political and religious power. Culture and Religion, 13(3), 295–313.[Taylor & Francis Online], [Google Scholar]), and the anti-nuclear issue has not proved particularly attractive to voters, as seen in the 2012 presidential election (interview with activist, Taipei, 15 July 2013). Thus, although at one time it was near the top of the national political agenda, the anti-nuclear cause did not have a significant impact on politics for several decades prior to the Fukushima incident.
The Fukushima incident reignited the national-level contention over the continued use of nuclear power in Taiwan. There was fierce public criticism of the government’s pro-nuclear stance, followed by demands for a radical change in the existing policy. Activists and their supporters have called for a “nuclear-free Taiwan” and demanded that the government scrap the almost-completed fourth nuclear power plant and decommission the other three plants when they reach the end of their scheduled terms (Pingguo Ribao, 10 March 2013). Anti-nuclear activism has attracted more attention across the country than ever before, and its support base has become broader, attracting participation from housewives, celebrities and successful entrepreneurs. Even some KMT politicians, presumably with one eye on the ballot box, have been prompted to show support for anti-nuclear activism (Taipei Times, 27 March 2013). This split in the KMT has been advantageous to the anti-nuclear cause. Meanwhile, experience has taught the activists not to get too close to the DPP, as that would likely discourage non-DPP supporters. Thus, activists have been careful in managing their relations with political parties lest parties and politicians attempt to jump on the anti-nuclear bandwagon (Ho, 2014 Ho, M.-S. (2014). The Fukushima effect: Explaining the resurgence of the anti-nuclear movement in Taiwan. Environmental Politics, 23(6), 965–983.[Taylor & Francis Online], [Web of Science ®], [Google Scholar]).
As the issue of the continued use of nuclear power became more controversial, the contention moved into the legislature. In early 2013, Premier Jiang Yi-huah proposed a national referendum to decide whether to scrap the fourth nuclear plant. The legislature soon divided into pro- and anti-nuclear camps, and there were skirmishes over when and how the referendum should be implemented. Outside the legislature, the KMT and the relevant government organisations, including the Ministry of Economic Affairs, launched campaigns to persuade people of the economic necessity of the power plant. The DPP offered indirect support to the anti-nuclear activists, and its members delivered speeches at their rallies (interview with activist, Taipei, 30 June 2013). Fierce confrontation continued in the legislature for several months, with no prospect of compromise. When Lee Ching-hua, the KMT legislator who had initiated the referendum proposal, suddenly declared that he would withdraw it, the result was a stalemate (Taiwan News, 10 September 2013).
The deadlock ended when 72-year-old Lin Yi-Hsing, a very important symbol of democratisation and anti-nuclear activism in Taiwan, went on a hunger strike. Lin’s decision to risk his life for the anti-nuclear cause attracted the attention of the public and politicians alike. It soon provoked demonstrations and clashes between anti-nuclear protesters and the police (Taipei Times, 24 April 2014). The escalation of the contention increased the pressure on the Ma Ying-jeou administration. The administration wanted to avoid stirring up more trouble, given that the country had just experienced the Sunflower movement, a civil disobedience campaign on an unprecedented scale. At this time, the government was facing challenges not just from anti-nuclear activists but from society as a whole. Now that escalating protests had crossed partisan lines, the KMT decided that it would freeze the construction of the fourth nuclear power plant as long as there was no shortage of electricity (Pingguo Ribao, 8 September 2014). Even though debate continued over whether the plant should ultimately be scrapped, the move was evidence of meaningful changes in the stance of the Ma administration, as previously the administration had pushed for the fourth power plant to be completed. Additionally, a plan to make the Atomic Energy Council an independent body in charge of nuclear safety has been discussed (Focus Taiwan, 3 January 2014).
The KMT suffered a crushing defeat in the general and presidential elections in early 2016, and in May 2016 the DPP became the ruling party. This change in the political landscape suggests that Taiwan may become even less reliant on nuclear power. Tsai Ing-wen, the new president, has previously proposed a “nuclear free Taiwan”, which would involve decommissioning all nuclear power plants by 2025, exploring alternative energy sources, and pursuing the liberalisation of the electricity industry. It is expected that Tsai will adopt a multi-pronged approach to reducing reliance on nuclear energy, although she will be careful not to stir up massive confusion in the political arena similar to the events of 2000 (Global Issues, 13 January 2016).
The shock of Fukushima seems to have brought about meaningful change in Taiwan. A high level of politicisation and a simple interest structure have been crucial in bringing about such an outcome. Compared to the other two cases, Taiwan has retained an integrated, state-controlled electricity company and has not sought additional sources of income for the nuclear industry. At the same time, anti-nuclear activism has broadened its support base and is pressing forward on two fronts, thus creating a society-wide struggle. By triggering heated debates that cross partisan lines, nuclear power has become a nationally salient political issue. Of the three countries under discussion here, Taiwan is the one that is most likely to undergo drastic and far-reaching change. A sudden national blackout in mid-August 2017 has called into question the feasibility of nuclear phase-out in Taiwan (South China Morning Post, 20 August 2017), but it is unlikely that the hard-won social consensus on nuclear phase-out will easily dissipate.
Korea: Evolving Issue in a Relatively Simple Interest Structure
In Korea, as in Taiwan, the nuclear industry developed within a simple interest structure based on a state-controlled electricity company. The existence of strong links between conservative politicians, bureaucrats and the electricity company emasculated civil activism for several decades. Since Fukushima, Korean civil activism has ridden a tide of rising public awareness of nuclear safety and an increasing unwillingness to accept the construction of nuclear plants and waste storage facilities on their doorstep. Nevertheless, a policy shift is still a long way off: nuclear power remains a local issue, and the creation of new interest opportunities has increased the complexity of the interest structure. Both the government’s “low carbon, green growth” policy introduced in 2008 and its nuclear exports to the United Arab Emirates in 2009 have provided the supporters of nuclear power with new interest opportunities. Consequently the Fukushima effect has remained limited in Korea.
In Korea, both pre- and post-Fukushima, the supporters of nuclear power – especially the government and the government-controlled electricity corporation – have acted almost as a single body, and this simple interest structure has been consolidated over several decades. Under the 1956 Korea–US atomic energy cooperation agreement, Korea started to receive nuclear technology from the United States. Under the junta led by General Park Chung-hee, three private power companies were merged to form the Korean Electric Power Company (KEPCO), the sole state-owned electricity company. Park’s developmental zeal encouraged the growth of the electric power industry in the 1960s, but when, in the mid-1970s, Park tried to introduce fuel cycle technology and related facilities from Canada and France for the purpose of nuclear weapons development, the United States put pressure on Korea to abandon these plans (USNSC, 1975 USNSC. (1975, 28 February). US National Security Council Memorandum, Development of US Policy toward South Korean Development of Nuclear Weapons. History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library. Retrieved from http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/114627 %5BGoogle Scholar]).
The Korean nuclear power community, rather than being paralysed by the Chernobyl accident in 1986, took advantage of the downturn in its US counterpart, which was desperately seeking a way out of the business slump (Price, 1990 Price, T. (1990). Political electricity: What future for nuclear energy? Oxford: Oxford University Press. [Google Scholar]). KEPCO obtained technology transfers under favourable conditions when it chose a US vendor, Combustion Engineering (CE), to construct its nuclear power plants, Yeongguang 3 and Yeongguang 4 (Lee, 2009 Lee, J.-H. (2009). Hangukui haekjugwon [Korea’s nuclear sovereignty]. Seoul: Gulmadang. [Google Scholar], p. 222). The KEPCO–CE collaboration laid the foundation for the development of indigenous reactor design capability in Korea. During the 1990s and 2000s, Korea succeeded in designing its own standard reactor model APR-1400 (KEPCO, 2014 KEPCO. (2014). Hanguk jollyok sasipnyonsa [The history of forty years of the Korea Electrical Company]. Retrieved from http://www.kepco.co.kr/kepco_plaza/history/index_b.html %5BGoogle Scholar]). Gaining confidence in indigenous technology and reducing its reliance on American knowhow, Korea sought to export its own standard model reactors, signing a contract with the United Arab Emirates in 2009 (Financial Times, 28 December 2009). Korea also continued its efforts, in collaboration with the United States, to develop pyroprocessing, a new technology designed to reduce nuclear waste (Sheen, 2011 Sheen, S. (2011). Nuclear sovereignty versus nuclear security: Renewing the ROK–US Atomic Energy Agreement. Korean Journal of Defense Analysis, 23(2), 273–288.[Web of Science ®], [Google Scholar]; Korea Times, 29 April 2013).
Anti-nuclear activism was relatively slow to develop in Korea. The democratisation of the late 1980s fostered environmental activism, including a certain amount of anti-nuclear activism. But the activists were not able to get the nuclear issue onto the national agenda (Lee, 1999 Lee, S.-H. (1999). Environmental movements in South Korea. In Y.-S. F. Lee & A. Y. So (Eds.), Asia’s environmental movements: Comparative perspectives (pp. 90–119). Armonk, NY: ME Sharpe. [Google Scholar], pp. 92–103). Activists have been able to achieve a certain amount of autonomy in the political realm, but the downside has been that neither of the competing major political parties has taken up the issue of nuclear power in a serious way.
This weak civil activism was the target of cooptation by the pro-nuclear government and KEPCO. Between 1989 and 2005, civil activists – with the support of environmental organisations – seemed to have achieved success in preventing the government from locating nuclear waste storage facilities in economically disadvantaged or remote areas, such as Yeongdeok, Anmyeon-do, Guleop-do and Buan (Kim, 2005 Kim, C.-K. (2005). Banhaek undonggwa jiyokjumin jongchi [Anti-nuclear movement and local politics]. Hanguk sahoe, 6(2), 41–69. [Google Scholar]). In the 2003 Buan case in particular, resistance by civil activists and local residents ended in violence, and the local mayor, Kim Jong-gyu, was injured. The pro-nuclear government and KEPCO’s cooptation strategy overturned that trend in 2005 when they offered US$250 million to any city prepared to host a storage facility for low- and medium-level radioactive waste. Four cities came forward, attracted by the prospect of funds to boost their stagnating economies (Lee, 2009 Lee, J.-H. (2009). Hangukui haekjugwon [Korea’s nuclear sovereignty]. Seoul: Gulmadang. [Google Scholar]). Despite strong protests by civil activists, Kyeongju emerged as the winner after 89.5 per cent of its voters came out in support of the project in a local referendum. The issue of where to locate radioactive waste storage facilities, by its very nature, was unable to attract national attention or prompt joint resistance. The central government collaborated with cash-strapped local governments in order to divide the local population (Yun, 2006 Yun, S.-J. (2006). 2005nyon jung-jeojuwi bangsasong pegimul chobunsiseol chujin gwajonggwa banhaekundong [The process of siting medium- and high-level radioactive waste storage and the anti-nuclear movement, 2005]. Siminsahoewa NGO, 4(1), 277–311. [Google Scholar]). Cooptation in the guise of the “democratic process” justified and empowered the government in its plans. It also further incapacitated anti-nuclear activism in Korea. In this context, it is not surprising that the Korean government, particularly the previous Lee administration and the incumbent Park administration, is not committed to reducing reliance on nuclear power (New York Times, 4 August 2013; Hankyoreh, 15 January 2014).
Owing to the critical shock of the Fukushima incident, the government has had to pay more attention to nuclear safety. When Korea hosted the Nuclear Security Summit in March 2012, the then president, Lee Myung-bak, stressed the link between nuclear security and safety. This new concern was timely in view of the ramifications of Fukushima. In the same context, the Lee administration separated the Nuclear Security and Safety Commission from the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology in October 2012, making it an independent body.
Amid heightened concerns about nuclear safety, revelations about a bribery scandal in the nuclear power business in 2013 gave new impetus to anti-nuclear activists, although action was slow to develop and was local in scope. First of all, the country’s four religious groups – Protestant, Catholic, Buddhist and Won Buddhist – adopted an exit-from-nuclear stance, and more than 40 anti-nuclear civic organisations came together in a loose but extended umbrella organisation, Collective Action for a Nuclear-free Society. Second, local politics in a few cities has begun to reflect concerns about the country’s excessive reliance on nuclear power. At the local elections held in June 2014, a candidate who opposed the government’s plan to construct a new power plant was elected in Samcheok, and a politician who opposed extending the life of the oldest plant at Gori was elected in Busan. In a local poll held in Yeongdeok in August 2015, 62 per cent of voters opposed the construction of two new nuclear plants (Dalton & Cha, 2016 Dalton, T., and Cha, M. (2016, 23 February). South Korea’s nuclear energy future. The Diplomat. Retrieved from http://thediplomat.com/2016/02/south-koreas-nuclear-energy-future/ %5BGoogle Scholar]). The city government of Seoul has adopted a policy of gradually reducing energy consumption and facilitating the generation of renewable energy, with the aim of transforming the city from a consumer to a producer of energy. With the support of ardent activists, Mayor Park Won-soon has led the “one fewer nuclear power plant” drive since 2012 (interview with activist, Seoul, 31 July 2014).
As far as the activists are concerned, the contention in general remains local; that is, the most problematic issues are the safety concerns of local residents and their unwillingness to accept nuclear power. The trend towards declining local acceptance, as seen in Samcheok, Yeongdeok and Busan in recent years, certainly raises the cost of construction of both nuclear power plants and nuclear waste dumps, but the candidate sites for nuclear power plants are located far from the capital and other cities that are benefiting from nuclear-powered electricity. Civil activism, despite its gradual expansion due to localised opposition to nuclear facilities, is still weak. Its nationwide network is only loosely integrated, compared to the solid interest structure of the nuclear supporters.
There are two factors that bolster the solidarity of the supporters of nuclear power in Korea. The first is the government’s pursuit since August 2008 of a “low carbon, green growth” policy, in which nuclear power continues to have a significant role. This policy, which was adopted under President Lee, has continued under the present administration. Indeed, the Seventh Basic Plan for Electricity Demand and Supply states that 28.2 per cent of Korea’s total electricity should be generated by nuclear power by 2029 – which is similar to the 2014 level of 30.0 per cent. In order to meet the increasing demand for electricity, the government plans to build two more reactors (Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy, 2015 Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy. (2015). 7cha jeonryeok sugeup gibongyeohweok, 2015–2029 [The Seventh Basic Plan of Electricity Demand and Supply, 2015–2029]. [Google Scholar], p. 4, p. 8).
The second factor that favours the solidarity of the promoters of nuclear power is the rise of new interests, especially the export of nuclear power plants, which is solidifying the policy on nuclear power. With strong government support, in 2009 Korea succeeded in winning a contract with the United Arab Emirates to build four reactors worth US$20.4 billion. This has strengthened the ties between stakeholders (Wall Street Journal, 28 December 2009). As a competitor of Japanese and French manufacturers, the Korean vendor is also seeking new opportunities in other countries in the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe. It is unlikely that this solid interest structure, which has also become more complex than before, will be shaken to any significant degree in the near future.
With the launch of the new administration in May 2017, and particularly with President Moon Jae-in’s personal preference for the gradual phasing-out of nuclear power, Korea’s policy today is different from the previous administration’s reliance on nuclear power. The Moon administration has tried to ratchet up public support for its policy by facilitating debates in a public-opinion committee with regard to the issue of stopping or continuing the construction of two new nuclear reactors at Sin-gori. Yet the public-opinion committee produced a contradictory result: support for the continuation of the construction of the reactors at Sin-gori and simultaneous support for a gradual reduction of nuclear power domestically (Jang, 2017 Jang, S. Y. (2017, 26 October). South Korea’s nuclear energy debate. The Diplomat. Retrieved from https://thediplomat.com/2017/10/south-koreas-nuclear-energy-debate/ %5BGoogle Scholar]). The Moon administration has committed to implementing the committee’s recommendations, and has reconfirmed its policy priority regarding the gradual phasing-out of nuclear power. What should be noted here is that, unlike its domestic nuclear policy, the administration has not declared its firm intention to reject the possibility of exporting nuclear plants. This inconsistent position has sparked criticism from the opposition party, which has claimed that no country will buy Korean nuclear power plants if the Moon administration is reducing the use of nuclear power domestically. Given this situation, it seems that Korea’s underlying reliance on nuclear power is unlikely to undergo a dramatic change.
Generalisations about the Contention over Nuclear Power and Likely Policy Changes
Any major change to a government’s nuclear power policy is most likely brought about by contention between pro- and anti-nuclear forces. Specifically, change is determined by the combined effect of the interest structure and the level of politicisation. By examining these two factors, we are able to establish some generalisations regarding the conditions under which the challengers (i.e. civil activists) are able to contribute to a significant change in nuclear power policy.
In relation to the interest structure, the analysis in this article leads us to the following generalisation: civil activism is less likely to bring about policy change if it has to compete with diverse supporters of nuclear power than with a monolithic supporter. In a complex environment, activists are besieged by different supporters of nuclear power, including the government, electricity companies and politicians. Activists need to contest the government’s energy policy, demonstrate against the siting of nuclear plants, monitor electricity companies’ safety measures, and keep a vigilant eye on the triangular relationship between supporters. Anti-nuclear activism is, by its very nature, constrained by the supporters of nuclear power who act as veto players against policy change. The way in which the complex nature of the defenders (who in this case are the supporters of nuclear power) diffuses the effect of the challenger’s strategy (the challenger here being civil activist groups) is not unique to the case of nuclear power, but analogous to opposing alliances in international relations (e.g. Christensen, 2011 Christensen, T. J. (2011) Worse than a monolith: Alliance politics and problems of coercive diplomacy in Asia. Princeton: Princeton University Press.[Crossref], [Google Scholar]). The supporters of nuclear power tend to coalesce, even if they have different reasons for supporting nuclear power as an essential energy source; dealing with this complexity exhausts civil activism. Furthermore, the export of nuclear power plants creates additional supporters: reactor vendors, nuclear fuel makers and technologists. Therefore, unless the complex interest structure breaks up, the politicisation of the nuclear power issue at the national level will not by itself bring about any major policy change. The Japanese case demonstrates this very well.
We can also make a generalisation concerning politicisation: if civil activism manages to exert pressure on both the pro- and anti-nuclear political camps, a drastic and far-reaching policy change is likely to occur. Politicisation at the national level is a kind of securitisation of the nuclear power issue. Calls for exit-from-nuclear at a national level involve the dissemination by activists of information regarding the hazardous contamination of water and air, and the effects of radiation on children’s health and the mental health of evacuees, and so on. All these activities are aimed at securitising the issue among both the public and politicians and political parties. In order to be successful, civil activists must act strategically, making sure that the issue is a salient campaign agenda item for both the ruling and opposition parties. Civil activism should not rely on one particular party. Although reliance on one party may allow activists to take advantage of that party’s organisational resources, it can mean that they become the instruments of the party (Ho, 2003 Ho, M.-S. (2003). The politics of anti-nuclear protest in Taiwan: A case of party-dependent movement (1980–2000). Modern Asian Studies, 37(3), 683–708.[Crossref], [Web of Science ®], [Google Scholar]). Alignment with a particular party will lead to a policy shift only if that party wins a presidential election and holds a majority in the legislature. Thus, a more viable strategy for activists is to work on both the ruling and opposition parties, thus turning nuclear power into a nonpartisan, securitised national issue.
The comparisons we have drawn in this article, and generalisations that are based on them, provide us with a balanced understanding of both the structural constraints on actors in the contention over nuclear power and the process in which each actor manoeuvres. This balanced understanding has significant implications for anti-nuclear activists all over the world with regard to their choice of strategy: in order to achieve their aims, they need to politicise and securitise the issue of nuclear power at the national level, while at the same time crossing the partisan line and putting pressure on both pro- and anti-nuclear political parties. The Taiwanese case demonstrates this model. Activists have benefited from the simple interest structure and the resultant single battlefront (i.e. activists vs the government); furthermore, they have enhanced their ability to cross the partisan line to press both the ruling and opposition parties to support exit-from-nuclear. Additionally, the change in the political landscape brought about by the DPP’s victory in the January 2016 presidential election has improved the prospects for further policy change (e.g. the decommissioning of old plants and a halt to the construction of new ones).
The analysis in this article helps us to address the question of why anti-nuclear activism produces different outcomes in different countries. A diversified, complex interest structure produces a threshold, if not a fault-line, that makes significant policy change exceedingly difficult, even when the nuclear power issue is highly politicised. For civil activism, it is not a matter of choosing whether to confront a complex or a simple interest structure, as the interest structure is already in place. The activists’ cause may be helped by a combination of heightened public awareness, collaboration with the political leadership, and the commercial development of alternative energy sources.
Conclusion
The Fukushima incident has certainly energised civil activism in all three countries under consideration in this article, and in all three cases it has led to calls for exit-from-nuclear, to varying degrees. The incident has served to securitise the political discourse regarding nuclear power and has laid the foundation for the adoption of a modified energy policy, but these changes do not mean the end of nuclear power in these three countries: they mean different things in each of the three cases.
This article has demonstrated the combined effect of interest structure and level of politicisation on the scope of policy change. Interest structure is more historically dependent than the level of politicisation. The complexity or simplicity of the interest structure is related to the industrial development pattern at the time of the introduction of nuclear power and the export structure of the key industries, including nuclear power, at the advanced stage of industrial development. In contrast, the level of politicisation is something that civil activism is able to manipulate at the time of a critical shock, such as the Fukushima incident.
By tracing the trajectories of contention over nuclear power policy, this article finds that the scope of policy change is greatest in Taiwan, followed by Japan and then Korea. The Taiwanese case has a simple interest structure, so politicisation at the national level and civil activism’s crossing of the partisan line make significant policy change more likely. Because of the complex interest structure and new interest opportunities stemming from the export of nuclear plants, the Japanese case, despite strengthened nationwide civil activism, is likely to see pro-nuclear forces regain a certain degree of momentum in the long run. We also find that Korea is the least likely of the three to undergo a policy change, although civil activism there is slowly expanding.
We have learned two lessons from the above analysis that may be relevant for anti-nuclear civil activism: first, a complex interest structure presents a more formidable obstacle to civil activists than a simple, monolithic one; second, if civil activism manages to exert pressure on both the pro- and anti-nuclear political camps at a critical moment, a drastic and far-reaching policy change is likely to occur.
Disclosure statement
No potential conflict of interest was reported by the authors.
Funding
This work was supported by a National Research Foundation of Korea Grant funded by the Korean Government (NRF-2010-361-A00017) and the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies Research Fund.
Acknowledgments
The authors express their deep gratitude to Nathan Batto, Stephan Haggard, Ming-sho Ho, Nae-Young Lee, Taedong Lee, Tse-Kang Leng, Takemoto Makiko and Hungwen Tseng for their insightful comments and suggestions. The authors also thank the three reviewers for their critical, helpful comments for the improvement of this paper.
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December 19, 2017 Posted by | ASIA | , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Call for Working Together to Enact the Chernobyl Law in Japan

By Masami Ueno (Director of Fukushima-Iseshima Association)
 
Fukushima-Isehima Association is a Non-Profit Organization located in Mie Prefecture in Japan. We have been helping the evacuees (be it forced or volunteered) from Fukushima to settle in Mie Prefecture and providing the children of Fukushima with recuperation programs in Mie since March 2011. We also send fresh vegetables to families in Fukushima.  
 
Our activities mentioned above have been supported by generous donations and grants. However, after six years have passed, we have realized that what private organizations—like ours—can do is limited. Yet, our activities are still necessary for many people since radiation continues to be released into the air every day as the result of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Then, the question is how we can tackle with such an unprecedented scale of disaster. To be honest, we are at a loss. However, there are two important precedents we should follow. 
 
The first instance is the Chernobyl Law that was established by the government of the former Soviet Union for the people affected by the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster in order to protect their lives and health from radiation. The Chernobyl Law is also the first law in the world that manifests the universal human rights to the life of the people affected by the radiation disaster. We believe that Japan must enact the law equivalent to the Chernobyl Law.  
 
Another instance is Japan’s Freedom of Information Law that was established by the government of Japan in 1999. This law was the product of the accumulated efforts made by the citizens all over Japan; those citizens requested their own local governments and members of the city councils to enact the Freedom of Information Law at the municipal levels. This citizen movement eventually led to the enactment of this law at the national level. We can establish Japan’s Chernobyl Law by following this history and experience of the civil actions that eventually realized the Freedom of Information Law in Japan.
 
We would like to work together with many of you toward the enactment of Japan’s Chernobyl Law in order to protect our health and lives from the radiation disaster.
Please take a moment to read the following. We hope that you support our idea and join our effort to establish Japan’s Chernobyl Law.
 
Five years after the Chernobyl nuclear accident, the so-called “Chernobyl Law” was established by the former Soviet Union; it was then succeeded by the governments of Ukraine, Russia and Belarus after the dissolvement of the Soviets.  
 
All these governments have guaranteed the right to evacuation for the residents living in the contaminated areas by radiation, while providing the people living in the areas to which the evacuation orders were issued with the social security. The three countries are not necessarily in a sound economic situation; consequently, they are not able to fulfill all the compensations stimulated by the law. Nonetheless, the Chernobyl Law is still significant for human history as it identifies the government as the primary responsible for the nuclear disaster and guarantees the unconditional right to evacuation for the residents living in areas where one’s exposure to radiation would exceed 1 mSv/year.
 
On the other hand, the Japanese government raised the standard of public dose limit for radiation exposure from 1 mSv to 20 mSv per year after the Fukushima nuclear accident, and continues to maintain the same dose limit as the safety standard, which turns to be the criteria for the government to lift the evacuation order today. 
 
Furthermore, the Fukushima Health Management Survey Committee has renounced the possibility of causal relation between the increasing number of thyroid cancers among the Fukushima children and radiation, and has never taken a drastic measurement for the health problems among the residents of Fukushima.
 
Japan’s radiation risk management policy considerably differs from that of the three former USSR countries, which set up 1 mSv/ year as the public dose limit for radiation exposure and provide the social security for the people who are diagnosed as a possible victim of the radiological consequences of the Chernobyl nuclear accident.
 
Immediately after the Chernobyl nuclear accident, the government of the former Soviet Union raised the standard of the public dose for radiation exposure from 1 mSv to 100 mSv/year; and some experts insisted that 100 mSv/year was ‘safe’ even around the period where the Chernobyl Law was being established. However, the public dose limit was reversed to 1mSv/year, which is the international standard, because the nuclear power plant workers, who had dealt with the accident, fiercely opposed to the government’s policy of 100 mSv as the post-Chernobyl public dose limit. 
 
We, the citizens in Japan, too, experienced the nuclear catastrophe that reminded us of the dignity of life.
We must speak out and take actions in order to establish Japan’s Chernobyl Law.
                                                          
May 2017
 
Please contact us if you like to work with us to draft a model plan and formulate a procedure to enact the law at the municipal level. The below is our contacts:
 
Email:
ueno_masami_1108@yahoo.co.jp(Masami Ueno)
noam@m6.dion.ne.jp(Toshio Yanagihara)
 

November 30, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

UN body calls on Japan to improve protection of press freedoms

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GENEVA (Kyodo) — A U.N. body on Thursday called on Japan to take steps to better protect press freedoms as concerns about the country’s laws aimed at curtailing leaks of state secrets could hinder the work of journalists.
In another of the 218 non-legally binding recommendations on Japan’s human rights record released by the U.N. Human Rights Council’s working group, Tokyo was urged to apologize and pay compensation to “comfort women” forced to work in Japan’s World War II military brothels.
The recommendations reflected the views of some 105 countries. Of the issues raised, the U.N. council will adopt those that have been accepted by the country in question at a plenary session around March 2018.
In relation to freedom of the press in Japan, the recommendation called on the country to amend Article 4 of the broadcasting law that gives the government authority to suspend broadcasting licenses of TV stations not considered “politically fair.”
Japan had already attracted criticism, in particular from David Kaye, U.N. special rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, over its law called the Act on the Protection of Specially Designated Secrets, which came into force in 2014.
Under the law, civil servants or others who leak designated secrets could face up to 10 years in prison, and those who instigate leaks, including journalists, could be subject to prison terms of up to five years.
In his report, Kaye noted that the law may be arbitrarily enforced as subcategories under which information may be designated as secret are “overly broad.”
On the issue of “comfort women,” raised at the request of South Korea and China, the recommendation urged Japan to promote fair and accurate historical education, including the women’s stories, and to apologize and compensate victims.
The recommendation also said Japan should abolish or suspend the death penalty, reflecting calls from European Union countries, and continue to provide support to those affected by the Fukushima nuclear crisis caused by the massive 2011 earthquake and tsunami. In particular, a directive to address health issues faced by pregnant mothers and children was noted.
The U.N. Rights Council is mandated to “undertake a universal periodic review” of whether countries are meeting their human rights obligations and commitments.
The examination is conducted on all 193 members of the United Nations in periodic cycles of a few years. The latest review was the third for Japan.
Nuclear-news.net exclusive report from yesterday on the UN meeting;

November 18, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Study: S. Korean nuclear disaster would hit Japan the hardest

hjhklmmù.jpgThe projected spread of radioactive cesium-137 from a disaster at the No. 3 reactor’s spent fuel pool of the Kori nuclear plant in Busan, South Korea (Provided by Kang Jung-min)

A serious nuclear accident in South Korea could force the evacuation of more than 28 million people in Japan, compared with around 24 million in the home country of the disaster.

Japan would also be hit harder by radioactive fallout than South Korea in such a disaster, particularly if it occurred in winter, when strong westerly winds would blow radioactive substances across the Sea of Japan, according to a simulation by the Natural Resources Defense Council, a Washington-based think tank.

The simulation, based on a scenario of an unfolding crisis at the Kori nuclear power plant in Busan, South Korea, was led by Kang Jung-min, a South Korean senior researcher of nuclear physics, and his colleagues.

At events in Japan and South Korea, Kang, 51, has repeatedly warned about East Asia’s vulnerability to a severe nuclear accident, saying the region shares the “same destiny” regardless of the location of such a disaster.

The Kori nuclear complex is home to seven of the country’s 25 commercial reactors, making it one of the largest in South Korea. Its oldest reactor–and the first in the country–went online in 1978.

Spent nuclear fuel at the Kori plant is cooled in on-site storage pools next to reactors.

But the operator of the plant has ended up storing spent fuel in more cramped conditions than in the past because waste keeps accumulating from the many years of operations.

An estimated 818 tons of spent fuel was being stored at the pool of the Kori No. 3 reactor as of the end of 2015, the most at any reactor in the country.

That is because the No. 3 pool has also been holding spent fuel from the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors since their fuel pools became too crowded.

Storing spent fuel in such a manner greatly increases the risk of a nuclear accident, Kang warned.

Kang’s team simulated the series of likely events that would follow if the No. 3 reactor lost power in a natural disaster or an act of terrorism.

With no power, the spent fuel at the No. 3 reactor could not be cooled. The cooling water would evaporate, exposing the fuel rods to air, generating intensive heat and causing a fire.

Hydrogen gas would then fill up the fuel storage building, leading to an explosion that would result in the release of a large amount of vaporized cesium-137 from the spent fuel.

Assuming that the catastrophe occurred on Jan. 1, 2015, the researchers determined how highly radioactive cesium-137 would spread and fall to the ground based on the actual weather conditions over the following week, as well as the direction and velocity of winds.

To gauge the size of the area and population that would be forced to evacuate in such a disaster, the team took into account recommendations by the International Commission on Radiological Protection, a private entity, and other organizations.

The results showed that up to 67,000 square kilometers of land in Japan–or much of the western part of the country–would fall under the evacuation zone, displacing a maximum of 28.3 million people.

In South Korea, up to 54,000 square kilometers would need to be vacated, affecting up to 24.3 million people.

The simulation also found that 18.4 million Japanese and 19 million Koreans would remain displaced for even after 30 years, the half-life of cesium-137, in a worst-case scenario.

Radioactive materials from South Korea would also pollute North Korea and China, according to the study.

Nineteen reactors in South Korea are located in the coastal area facing the Sea of Japan, including those at the Kori nuclear power plant.

Kang said the public should be alerted to the dangers of highly toxic spent fuel, an inevitable byproduct of nuclear power generation.

One ton of spent fuel contains 100,000 curies of cesium-137, meaning that 20 tons of spent fuel would be enough to match the estimated 2 million curies of cesium-137 released in the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

An average-size light-water reactor produces about 20 tons of spent fuel in one year of operation.

East Asia is home to one of the world’s largest congestions of nuclear facilities, Kang said.

Japan, China and South Korea, which have all promoted nuclear energy as state policy for decades, together host about 100 commercial reactors.

A number of nuclear-related facilities are also concentrated in North Korea, particularly in Yongbyon, north of Pyongyang.

If a severe accident were to occur in China, the pollution would inevitably spill over to South Korea and then to Japan.

That is why people should take serious interest in not just their own country’s nuclear issues, but also in neighboring countries,” Kang said. “Japan, China and South Korea should cooperate with each other to ensure the safety and security of spent fuel and nuclear facilities.”

He said the risks of a fire would be reduced if spent fuel were placed at greater intervals in storage pools.

Ideally, spent fuel should be moved to sealed dry casks and cooled with air after it is cooled in a pool for about five years,” he said.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201703300001.html

 

May 22, 2017 Posted by | South Korea | , , , | Leave a comment

Japan, France confirm nuclear and security cooperation

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PARIS (Kyodo) — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and French President Francois Hollande on Monday confirmed bilateral cooperation in the research of the commercial use of nuclear power as well as in security.

The two countries agreed on joint research on a French-led fast reactor development project called ASTRID, an acronym for Advanced Sodium Technological Reactor for Industrial Demonstration.

As the leaders met, Japanese industry minister Hiroshige Seko, who is accompanying Abe, and French environment minister Segolene Royal signed a nuclear power cooperation agreement, stating that they will work together on nuclear fuel cycle and fast reactor development.

France aims to start the operation of ASTRID in the 2030s.

Abe and Hollande also attended a signing ceremony on a deal in which Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. and Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd. will each acquire a 5 percent stake in a nuclear fuel reprocessing joint venture to be established by French atomic energy company Areva.

In the sphere of security, Abe revealed to reporters after the talks with Hollande that Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Forces will jointly conduct naval exercises with France, the United States and Britain.

The Japanese premier welcomed the “significant” agreement on the exercises to be held in the Asia-Pacific region, including off Guam in the Western Pacific, apparently in view of China’s expansionary maritime activities.

The Japanese leader said he and Hollande shared a view that the Indian and Pacific oceans are international public goods and need to be maintained as free and open areas.

Abe said a French training squadron, including a helicopter carrier, will visit Japan in late April.

On regional issues, Abe strongly condemned North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, while Hollande expressed Paris’ support for Tokyo on the matter.

It was the 10th and final meeting between Abe and Hollande as the latter is not running in France’s upcoming presidential election. The first round of the election is in April followed by a potential runoff vote in May.

As for economic issues, Abe and Hollande agreed on the importance of promoting free trade amid the threat of rising protectionism across the world following the inauguration of U.S. President Donald Trump.

They affirmed cooperation for the early signing of the free trade agreement between Japan and the European Union.

Abe expressed Japan’s support for “a strong Europe” to be maintained even after Britain’s forthcoming exit from the bloc.

“Japan and Europe must fly the flag of free trade high, together with the United States,” Abe said.

Hollande said the Japan-France relationship can be further strengthened.

France’s election is one of a series in Europe this year in which public unease about immigration and the functions of the European Union have fuelled speculation voters could pick populist candidates over the current political establishment.

Abe arrived in Paris on Monday after talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Hanover. He is scheduled to meet European Council President Donald Tusk and Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni before returning to Japan on Wednesday.

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170321/p2g/00m/0dm/030000c

 

March 26, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment

Russia and Japan Expand Nuclear Cooperation

“The key cooperation areas specified in the memorandum is the post-accident recovery at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, including radioactive waste management and possible decommissioning.”

 

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Putin and Abe applaud the signing of the memorandum of cooperation

 

Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom has signed a memorandum of cooperation in peaceful uses of atomic energy with two Japanese ministries. One key area of cooperation under the agreement will be post-accident recovery at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi plant.

The memorandum was signed in Tokyo on 16 December during a meeting between Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe and Russian president Vladimir Putin. It was signed by Japan’s minister of economy, trade and industry, Hiroshige Seko; the minister of education, culture, sports, science and technology, Hirokazu Matsuno; and Rosatom CEO Alexey Likhachov.

In a statement, Rosatom said one of the key cooperation areas specified in the memorandum is the post-accident recovery at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, including radioactive waste management and possible decommissioning.

In addition, the parties will consider establishing a joint Russian-Japanese platform “to study the possibilities of fostering human resources exchange and exchange of ideas aimed at promoting innovative nuclear technologies based on the knowledge and experience of the two countries”.

“The memorandum serves as a tool to support and promote new mutually beneficial cooperation areas of business and scientific interest,” Rosatom said. The company said it has “all competences and experience” to help Japan in recovery efforts at Fukushima Daiichi and that it is “willing to become a partner of Japan in other possible joint mutually beneficial projects in the nuclear power area”.

The signing of the memorandum follows the signing of a cooperation agreement between the two countries in May 2009. This agreement was ratified by the Russian parliament in late 2010 and by the Japanese parliament in December 2011. Under the agreement, the two countries may cooperate in areas including uranium exploration and mining; the design, construction and operation of light water reactors; radioactive waste processing and management; nuclear safety, including radiation protection and environmental control; research and application of radioisotopes and radiation; and other areas based on additional written agreements between the two countries.

http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/NP-Russia-and-Japan-expand-nuclear-cooperation-1912164.html

December 19, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

‘Nuke food’ already here

FDA announced a national recall of a fermented soybean product on Sunday, after discovering that the product included a package of soy sauce originating from a “radiation-affected” region of Japan.

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a national recall of a fermented soybean product on Sunday, after discovering that the product included a small package of soy sauce originating from a radiation-affected region of Japan.

Radiation detection tests conducted by the Atomic Energy Council showed that the soy sauce had not been contaminated by nuclear substances, the FDA said.

But the discovery of the Ibaraki-sourced soy sauce had caught authorities off guard, highlighting a loophole in Taiwan’s five-year ban on food imports from five Japanese prefectures.

Food products from Fukushima, Gunma, Chiba, Ibaraki and Tochigi prefectures are banned over fears they may be contaminated with radioactive substances, following the meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in 2011.

During a press conference on Sunday, FDA officials said they had asked all national retailers to recall products containing the soy sauce as a preventative measure. Any business that chose to keep the product in the market would be subject to a maximum NT$3 million penalty, health authorities said.

Officials said the soy sauce had been sold by food importer Taicrown Corporation (太冠國際) to downstream distributors including Japanese restaurant chain Yoshinoya, RT-Mart, shopping malls SOGO, Shinkong Mitsukoshi and Far Eastern.

The recalled fermented soybean product, called natto, had been manufactured by a Japanese company called KAJINOYA, FDA official Wu Ming-mei (吳明美) said.

Wu said the importer was in the process of collecting related information and would provide further details to the FDA before 5 p.m. on Monday.

According to media, Yoshinoya said its supplier provided safety certification for its imports, but that it had decided to pull the product from their menus regardless.

SOGO and Shinkong Mitsukoshi both said Taicrown Corporation had yet to offer any explanations and both offered refunds to customers that had purchased the product.

RT-Mart also issued a statement Sunday, stressing it had removed the natto product from its shelves last Friday after finding it suspicious during internal product inspections earlier that day.

Five other natto products imported by Taicrown have also been removed, and customers may receive refunds if they have any concerns, said RT-Mart.

The current administration is planning to gradually relax restrictions on Japanese food imports from the Fukushima nuclear disaster zones, but faced violent protests at public hearings last month.

http://www.chinapost.com.tw/taiwan/detail.asp?id=486491&grp=%27B%27

December 12, 2016 Posted by | Taiwan | , , | 1 Comment

13 cities, counties issue statement on food imports from Japan

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Taipei, Nov. 16 (CNA) Thirteen cities and counties governed by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) issued a joint statement on Wednesday to clarify their position on the potential lifting of restrictions on food imports from radiation-affected areas of Japan.

The statement said that both the central government and local governments controlled by the DPP have an uncompromising commitment to safeguard the health of the general public.

The signatories to the statement called for the introduction of stricter food safety standards than those in the European Union and the United States.

On the government’s plan to allow food imports from four radiation-affected prefectures the signatories insisted on four principles.

The first is that the ban on imports of food products from Fukushima remains in place.

Second, the ban on tea, water, baby formula and aquatic products from four prefectures – Gunma, Chiba, Ibaraki and Tochigi – will not be lifted.

Third, no food products will be imported from these four prefectures without certificates of origin and radiation inspection documentation provided by the relevant authorities.

Fourth, the import ban will remain on food products not on sale in Japan and the United States.

At a regular DPP Central Standing Committee meeting later in the day, the heads of the 13 cities and counties said the position laid out in the joint statement is in line with that of the central government.

Taichung Mayor Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said that food safety is the responsibility of the government and any changes in import controls on food products should only be introduced after full disclosure of relevant information and communication with the public.

When asked if local government heads had been mobilized to endorse government policy, Pingtung County Magistrate Pan Meng-an (潘孟安) dismissed the suggestion, saying that local officials are more interested in the health and safety of their own citizens.

Taiwan has banned imports of food products from five prefectures in Japan that were contaminated with radiation following the meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in March 2011, which was triggered by a massive earthquake and tsunami.

Taiwan’s government is now considering lifting the ban on food imports from the five prefectures, though not Fukushima, but has encountered heavy opposition.

Since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) assumed office in May, different Japanese organizations have asked Taiwan to lift the ban on food products, according to domestic news reports.

http://m.focustaiwan.tw/news/aipl/201611160023.aspx

November 19, 2016 Posted by | Taiwan | , , | Leave a comment