February 25, 2014

Today (February 25), the Japanese government held a ministerial conference and announced the Basic Energy Plan that designated nuclear energy as “an important base-load power source” and promised to restart nuclear reactors if they passed regulatory inspection by Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA). The Cabinet is planning to have further deliberation on the Plan and adopt it within a month.
(For the original draft of the Plan and public-comment responses, see http://www.enecho.meti.go.jp/topics/kihonkeikaku/new_index.htm).

The Basic Energy Plan ignores many public comments calling for “the immediate phase-out of nuclear energy” and “prioritizing responses to damages caused by the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident.”(*1) Although the Plan states that “nuclear-energy dependency will be lowered as much as possible,” it does not answer the call for “zero nuclear” expressed in many public comments.

The Basic Energy Plan also simply replaced the much-criticized phrase that designated nuclear energy as “an important, foundational base power source” with the similar phrase “an important base-load power source.” Moreover, the Plan promised to “promote reprocessing of spent fuels and plutonium thermal projects” so as to maintain the existing nuclear fuel cycle that is technologically and financially infeasible.

With regard to the restart of nuclear reactors, the Basic Energy Plan states, “if a nuclear reactor passes NRA’s regulatory standard—the most rigorous in the world—the government will support the restart of the reactor.” But, as NRA has repeatedly warned, the “regulatory” standard is not the same as a “safety” standard.(*2) Many experts have also pointed out that NRA’s regulatory standard is far from “the most rigorous in the world.”(*3) Moreover, since NRA does not regulate nuclear emergency evacuation plans, safety of local residents is not assured in case of a severe accident.

When the 2010 Basic Energy Plan had been drafted, the Japanese government had held eleven public hearings across Japan; however, no public hearing was held this time. Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident is also ongoing, and people who lost their homes and livelihood are still suffering. In the meanwhile, contaminated water continues to leak into the Pacific Ocean and is overwhelming TEPCO’s capability. We therefore strongly protest against the Basic Energy Plan that ignores public opinion and turns a blind eye to the reality of the nuclear accident. We also demand that the government clearly state “zero nuclear” in the Plan in light of the nationwide debate that took place in the summer of 2012, and that public hearings be held across Japan.

Note:

(1) Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, “Public Comments for The New Basic Energy Plan”:
http://www.enecho.meti.go.jp/topics/kihonkeikaku/140225_2.pdf

(2)Nikkei Shimbun, April 3, 2013:
http://www.nikkei.com/article/DGXNASFS03024_T00C13A4EE8000/

(3)Citizen Committee on Nuclear Energy, June 19, 2013:
http://www.ccnejapan.com/2013-06-19_CCNE_01.pdf

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