Japan anti-nuclear protestors battle Noda’s government on nuclear policy

08/30/2012
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Ooi nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture

TOKYO (majirox news) — Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s Cabinet is swaying on its nuclear policy The administration is being pulled in two directions as it explores the future of nuclear energy in Japan.

Noda asked his ministers on August 28 to examine the effects of a non-nuclear Japan in 2030. On the same day, the government announced that the majority of the Japanese are against nuclear power, according to polls and public comments. On the other hand, Noda said that nuclear power is needed for the medium- and long-term energy future of the country, and that the power generated from reactors is necessary to keep Japan’s economy moving.

The situation is currently under review, with no definite decision yet having being made.

“I believe most of the nuclear plants are safe,” said Takao Kashiwagi, scientist, member of the government panel investigating the nuclear accident and professor at Tokyo Institute of Technology. “However, we need to check each one of them, and then hopefully restart them in the future. The anti-nuclear activists want the plants to be 100 percent safe, but that is not possible. No technology is always 100 percent safe. In addition, many Japanese also equate nuclear energy to nuclear weapons.”

However, not everyone agrees. Noda has met with leaders of the country’s growing anti-nuclear group and discussed the safety of the country’s 50 nuclear reactors, of which only two are operating, following the disaster of March 11, 2011.

The leaders of the groups reported that none of the their requests were accepted by Noda. They demanded a shutdown of the two reactors and the permanent closure of all nuclear power plants in the country.

According to Kashiwagi, “It is rare to have a strong tsunami like the one that happened in Fukushima, once in a thousand years. However, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, TEPCO, which owns and operates the Fukushima nuclear plant, and the government were both 50 percent responsible for the nuclear disaster. The government for promoting nuclear policy and TEPCO, under government guidelines, for failing to safely run the plants.”

Ever since the restart of the two Ooi reactors in Fukui prefecture on July 9, demonstrations have grown throughout Japan. The protestors are starting to have an affect.

“I am anti-nuclear, said Yuuki Okada, a businessman in Tokyo.” But I realize it would take to many years to have a zero dependency, so I am for a 15 percent nuclear dependency.”

According to Kashiwagi, “If Japan is to ever choose zero dependency, some experts say it would have a severe impact on the country. The electricity costs would rise, oil imports would increase and the country would loose its industrial base.”

Calls for zero dependency are growing within the Prime Minister’s ruling Democratic Party of Japan and the public. Noda is faced with a delicate juggling act as he seeks to balance public opinion against the demands of the bureaucracy and the industries they represent.

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One Response to Japan anti-nuclear protestors battle Noda’s government on nuclear policy

  1. Karl on 09/07/2012 at 11:59 pm

    I am very troubled by the comments of Dr Kashiwagi in the article referring to the “battle” that protestors are engaged in confronting the Governments nuclear poliicy. One would think that we were living in normal times when social and political entities have the leisure to dialog about energy pricing and the like. But these are not normal times. We are in the arena facing a monster so unknown and unpredictable, and so malevolent, and which increases in size and fever that, if anything, we ought to be quaking in our ‘geta,’ and on our faces, knowing that without Divine intervention we will be gobbled up!

    If that sounds overly dramatic, that’s good. I mean it to be so. Here is a supposedly astute nuclear physicist, Dr. Kashiwagi, talking as though Japan had the leeway to ponder it’s “medium and even long term energy future,” when it, in fact, is captive to the horrific conditions represented by Fukushima Daiichi, et al.

    How can anyone say that nuclear plants are a safe thing? The Germans, who are sharp at engineering, made a quick decision to end their dependance on their nuclear industry when they saw the devastation of Fukushima, from afar. And they don’t live on the ‘ring of fire’. They obviously believe that one meltdown under similar conditions is not a negotiable plan. Dr. Kashiwagi says that it is a rare thing to have such a strong tsunami – ‘a once in a thousand years occurrence’. Really?
    Two things here: It wasn’t the tsunami, but the quake that initiated the breakdown which quickly led to the meltdown. Yes, the Tsunami knocked the pumps and the backup, all inadequately designed for a nuclear industry so precariously situated throughout a land of quakes. Quakes are a dime a dozen here in Japan. The officials knew that when they built these plants, all 50 of them. They didn’t plan for an 8.5 or 9 point quake. But a mere 40 years after the poorly designed GE plants were up and running, the Big One hit, and then the Tsunami, both which should have been overly prepared for, given the destructive scenarios that the Nuclear experts and the TEPKO ‘experts’ were cognizant of. A thousand years, huh? It’ll take many more millennia for all the deadly radiation to pass away.

    “Long term energy needs”? “Severe impact on the country?” Who are these experts who speak of “severity” and “energy cost” without placing these things right under the snout of the drooling monster Fukushima, for a reality check?
    How can Dr. Kashiwagi and his cohorts say that “The electricity costs would rise, oil imports would increase and the country would lose its industrial base, ” under these circumstances?
    The costs to human, animal and marine life, in Japan and among the nations of the world, and especially in the Northern Hemisphere at this point, that are being generated by Fukushima, have so far exceeded and so far outweigh any talk of something that could be considered influential to the “industrial base” of Japan, that to use the industrial status of Japan as an ear mark for anyone to determine the continued use of nuclear energy, is totally lacking in common sense and exposes a disregard for the well being of generations of people, not only the Japanese but mankind as a whole.

    I certainly don’t see Mr. Noda having to balance anything.The people have already spoken. Fukushima has already ‘weighed in.’ The people have more common sense than the leadership recognize. If this were a circus, Mr. Noda ought to drop the pins and run. The tigers have broken out of the cage! The high wire artists are bouncing around in the nets. Call for the obvious course of action. Cut the Nuclear industry out. Engage every last engineer in the task of shutting off the further flow of poison from the pitiful facilities. Seriously consider evacuation plans. Especially get the children with their moms as far from Fukushima as possible. Be honest in the face of the nations, repent of the obvious lying and covering up of the truth of Fukushima, and appeal to the nations to help shut Fukushima down and get those spent fuel rods in caskets and out of that # 4 spent pool facility, asap.

    Karl Hoessel, USA

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