Fukushima-anti-nuke-protests-Japan-460x250via Channel News Asia / May 28, 2014 / Japan’s government has announced it will replace two of its five members on the Nuclear Regulation Authority which determines if a nuclear plant is ready for a restart.

Speculation is rising that the government is removing the seismic expert responsible for actually beefing up the requirements for nuclear plants.

The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) is eager to spread the message that the Kashiwazaki Kariwa (KK), one of the world’s largest nuclear plants, is ready to be restarted after having been offline since the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear plant disaster.

Nuclear Reform Monitoring Committee deputy chair Lady Barbara Judge, who was the former chair of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority, supports an energy mix that includes nuclear power even in Japan where the risk of a massive earthquake is high.

In Japan, many continue to oppose the restart of nuclear power plants. There are lawsuits taking place all over Japan not only against nuclear power plants but also uranium-related facilities. In May, a local court ruled for the first time against the restart of Oi nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture.

“In a lawsuit to stop the Oi nuclear plant, the historic ruling was based on the fact that the risk cannot be controlled by humans” said Tamotsu Sugenami, secretariat of the Takagi Fund for Citizen Science.

“Immediately, those who support nuclear energy began a campaign stating that zero risk is an old way of thinking. We cannot tolerate this.”

Aside from the technical safety concerns, public trust in TEPCO also remains low.

“They (TEPCO) put little films on their websites on what’s going on,” said Lady Judge.

“They’re trying to explain to the public what they’re doing inside of walls of power plants which is new. And that’s more important than anything in terms of regaining public trust.”

TEPCO is aware of its reputation problem but there is also the issue of compensation.

Co-author of the book “It’s necessary to dissolve TEPCO for the revival of the Japanese economy” Hideaki Takemura claims the government has bankrolled TEPCO with the banks pumping in some 2 trillion yen to salvage the company.

He said: “There has been no compensation from (TEPCO’s) own pocket. It’s using the government money to compensate the victims and deal with the accident. There is no company as irresponsible as that.”

There are clearly many questions in Japan’s ongoing nuclear debate but there is no question that the Abe government is as keen as ever to get the country’s nuclear power plants back online.

SOURCE: Channel News Asia

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By Broc West| 5 Comments | Featured, News

5 comments

  1. The Japanese nuclear power program was created by MITI after world war two. It is hard to conceive of the tremendous audacity that must have been necessary to follow that course of development. But everyone today understands that the result were a complete success. Based on nuclear power Japan built the strongest economy. It is inconceivable that it could have been done any other way. If the politics of dissent and confrontation had prevailed at the time Japan would be the economic equivalent of Indonesia today. Lady Judge might be foolish but her attitude is correct. Japan must have nuclear energy, as indeed the whole world must have it. The sooner this necessity is recognized the better.

    • “But everyone today understands that the result were a complete success. ”

      — if your goal was to make large portions of japan uninhabitable, to ruin precious farmland, to poison the oceans, and give thousands of people cancer, then yes the program was a complete success. what you don’t understand is that the cost of a fukushima far outweighs any temporary economic benefits that japan may have reaped as a result.

    • Neither was the Fukushima accident and consequences conceivable. May the nuclear have been a key factor in Japan’s development, you must now recognize that you should shuffle your own point of view. The human-related risk in nuclear power plant management has been under-evaluated, and so have been the costs of decontamination processes, with or without accident.

      With the most powerful countries in the world unable to provide transparency and safety in their plants, how can you believe the spread of nuclear energy to the world to be a sane idea ?

  2. Privatize the benefits, socialize the costs. It’s the same old story everywhere.

    Of COURSE the taxpayers are going to pay the full cost of any accident. What, did you expect the company or, heavens forbid, the shareholders who profited from the plants to pay to clean up the mess?

  3. Japan has no indigenous fuel supplies. It was impossible and remains impossible for Japan to be the worlds third largest economy without cheap base load electricity from nuclear power. Mr. Abe knows this. Currently the Japanese are paying four times the price for liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) than North America to make up the shortfall and about double the price for coal. The balance of payments in 2013 was negative for the first time in 30 years. For an exporting nation that is an economic disaster.
    Japan has a choice – a very difficult one. Either remain on the world stage as a major economic power or lose that position and return to poverty. Having an economy totally dependent on outside energy supplies makes them extremely vulnerable to supply disruptions and energy suppliers know full well they have Japan over a barrel and are going to use it to make as much money as they can.
    With an ageing population, a decreasing workforce and skyrocketing electricity prices the stage is set for a rapid decline in Japanese economic power and the poverty that will come with it. They have a debt to GDP ratio of 250% the worst of an major economy and it is getting worse by the day.
    To put it simply – Japan either starts up its nuclear power plants or goes bankrupt.
    While I am used to the exaggerated comments from people who oppose anything nuclear the alternatives of poverty (which claims millions of lives per year), burning billions of tons of coal (which claims tens of thousands of miners lives a year), or burning oil and natural gas are far far worse for the health and safety of people in this world than nuclear power plants…which I will add is THE safest industry in the world bar none.
    I have not heard of a single anti-nuclear campaigner demand the shutdown of all coal fired plants in the world following the tragic loss of 300 or more miners in Turkey. Apparently the negligible probability of dying of cancer from radiation exposure is far worse than burning and suffocating miners half a mile underground. That is pure hypocrisy.
    There are three possibilities for Japan. They either find their own indigenous supplies of fossil fuel and pollute the country with that, restart and expand their nuclear program with modern reactor designs or exit from the world stage as a major economic power.
    I think with the continued delays in restarting nuclear reactors we are seeing Japan fade into economic oblivion and the resulting poverty. We have seen the rise now we are seeing the fall of Japan as a world power. Their only practical course of action is to restart all of their reactors but it must be the Japanese public that decides. If they truly do not want nuclear power then they must also accept the inevitable consequence of that which is poverty….and that will cause the deaths of more Japanese people than any nuclear reactor accident could ever do. A tough choice indeed.
    Malcolm

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