We protest against the adoption of the GX Decarbonization Power Supply Bill (a bundle of laws supporting nuclear power)


On May 31, the “GX (Green Transformation) Decarbonized Power Source Bill" (a bundle of five amendments to the Atomic Energy Basic Law, Nuclear Reactor Regulation Law, Electricity Business Act, Law on reprocessing, and Special act on renewable energy procurement*) was passed by the Diet. In response to this, FoE Japan and Citizen’s Eyes on Nuclear Regulation issued the following joint statement.

*Act on Special Measures Concerning Procurement of Electricity from Renewable Energy Sources by Electricity Utilities

[Statement] We protest against the adoption of the GX Decarbonization Power Supply Bill (a bundle of laws supporting nuclear power)

The “GX Decarbonization Power Supply Bill,” a bundle of bills amending five laws including the Atomic Energy Basic Law, the Act on the Regulation of Nuclear Reactors, and the Electricity Business Act, was approved today by the House of Councilors, signaling a strong push for the resurgence of nuclear power.

This decision disregards the lessons learned from the nuclear disaster and will leaves a harmful legacy for future generations. We strongly protest this decision.

Although the bill has many problems as described below, it was debated as a bundle of laws in the House of Representatives and the House of Councilors, each discussion lasting less than a month. It is difficult to say that the deliberations were thorough.

  • The Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Continues To This Day

The Fukushima nuclear disaster has not ended. Many people have lost their homes. They lost their livelihoods, their connections with their community, and the joy of sharing the blessings of nature and the seasons. Many people were forced to evacuate their homes and are still unable to return to this day.

The responsibility of the government and TEPCO for the nuclear disaster continues to remain ambiguous.

At the Diet, Prime Minister Kishida was asked, “If an accident should occur at a nuclear power plant as a result of aging degradation, can you take responsibility, Prime Minister?" He avoided answering the question.

When the next accident occurs; the nuclear power companies alone will not be able to recompense, the government will once again provide generous support, and the public and future generations will bear the burden of these actions.

  • Bailout of the Fading Nuclear Industry at the Public’s Expense

The revised Atomic Energy Basic Law, stating that the nuclear industry is “the responsibility of the national government," includes extensive support for the nuclear industry, including promotion of public understanding, regional development, human resource development, maintenance of industrial infrastructure, and improvement of the relevant business environment.

The government is essentially taking responsibility for actions that would normally fall under the purview of nuclear power companies, and as a result, providing them with undue protection.

This is nothing less than a bail out of the nuclear power industry at the expense of the public, an industry that would fade out if left alone. Is nuclear power, which is unstable, risky, and costly, really worth it?

The government reasons that nuclear power plants contribute to stable energy supply and autonomy, but this is false. The situation after the Fukushima nuclear disaster has shown that accidents and problems at nuclear power plants, which are large-scale centralized power sources, have a wide-ranging impact on the supply of electricity. Nuclear power plants, which are 100% dependent on imported uranium fuel, cannot be regarded as domestically produced energy.

  • There is No Justification for Removal of the Maximum Operating Period

Back in 2012, the provision regarding the maximum operating period was clearly included in the Act on the Regulation of Nuclear Reactors as a means of “regulation". According to a June 26, 2012 document from the Cabinet Secretariat’s Preparatory Office for Reform of Nuclear Safety Regulations, the three pillars of nuclear safety regulation based on the lessons learned from the Fukushima nuclear disaster are; to strengthen countermeasures against major accidents, to introduce a back-fit system, and to implement a 40-year operating limit on nuclear plants.

No new events have occurred since then that would warrant the removal of the maximum operating period. In other words, there is no legal standing for this action.

The government explains that the maximum operating period was set as a “policy for operators" and cites the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s July 29, 2020 “Opinion on the Relationship between the Assessment for Approval of Operation Period Extensions and Aging of Power Reactor Facilities During Long-Term Shutdown Periods” as a basis for this. However, the main purpose of this document is to summarize the opposing views on excluding long-term shutdown periods from operation periods, and there was no discussion amongst committee members on whether the maximum operating period should be abolished.

With the transfer of provisions on the maximum operating period from the Act on the Regulation of Nuclear Reactors to the Electricity Business Act, the authority to approve operating period extensions of nuclear plants will be transferred from the Nuclear Regulation Authority to the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry. The criteria for approval will change from safety regulations based on assessment of deterioration to approval from the perspective of utilization, such as whether the facility will contribute to ensuring a stable supply of electricity and whether the nuclear power company is able to perform its duties. Specific criteria and methods of assessment will be left to a METI ordinance to be enacted in the future.

  • The Deception of “Stricter Regulations"

The government claims that regulations will be strengthened by stipulating degradation inspections for nuclear plants over 30 years old in the Act on the Regulation of Nuclear Reactors, but this is deceptive. Under the existing regulations based on the Act on the Regulation of Nuclear Reactors, degradation inspections for nuclear power plants that are over 30 years old have been conducted every 10 years as part of an aging technology assessment. These evaluations will now be upgraded to a law, but it is an extension of the existing system and is nothing new. The “Long-Term Facility Management Policy" will become the “Long-Term Facility Management Plan," and the deterioration evaluation method, which used to be an attached document, will be upgraded to the main text of the law.

The revisions would reduce the authority of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and loosen restrictions.

  • No Deterioration Found by Inspections

Deterioration inspections are problematic at present. An accident where a control rod collapsed at Unit 4 of the Takahama plant occurred in January of this year, even though KEPCO had conducted a special inspection several months before and was unable to find any deterioration. This indicates that deterioration occurring in areas outside the limited scope of inspection cannot be evaluated.

The number of monitoring test specimens used to evaluate neutron irradiation embrittlement in nuclear reactors is also designed on the basis that the maximum operating period will be 40 years. At the Sendai Nuclear Power Plant (Kagoshima Prefecture), five of the six monitoring test specimen capsules have already been taken out. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has stated that the capsules will be regenerated and reinserted, but the monitoring specimens in the heat-affected zone are small and difficult to regenerate.

We cannot wait for an accident to occur. The elimination of restrictions on operating periods will increase the risk of nuclear accidents and put people’s lives and livelihoods at risk.

  • No Rationale for “Exclusion of Shutdown Periods"

With power of authorization for extending operating periods being transferred to the Electricity Business Act, the period during which operation was suspended due to the following reasons may be added to the operating period when applying for an extension: (1) enactment or change of relevant laws and regulations, (2) administrative measures, (3) administrative directives, (4) provisional orders by a court, or (5) other reasons unforeseeable by the power company.

Even if the shutdown was caused by reasons unforeseeable to the power company, aging of facilities is obviously something that will continue to progress.

Even from the operator’s point of view, the circumstances of shutdowns in the past have nothing to do with the future supply and demand of electricity. The reasons for the shutdowns mentioned above were determined by the respective administrative or judicial authorities by law, based on the social or legal requirements at the time that the shutdowns were ordered or requested. It is not appropriate for METI to conclude that the shutdowns were not necessary.

  • The Voices of Those Affected by the Nuclear Accidents and Public Opinion are Not Being Heard

After the “draft" of the GX Basic Policy was finalized, a total of 3,966 public comments were received during the year-end holidays. However, most of these comments were disregarded.

From January to March of this year, METI held “explanation and opinion exchange sessions" in Sapporo, Sendai, Saitama, Nagoya, Osaka, Toyama, Hiroshima, Takamatsu, Fukuoka, and Naha. Participants voiced criticisms and questions about the policy of promoting nuclear power, especially regarding the extension of their operating periods. However, METI stated that the opinions expressed at these meetings would not be reflected in the GX Basic Policy.

During a House of Representatives hearing session on April 14, Kanna Mitsuta, Executive Director of FoE Japan, outlined the problems with this bill and pointed out how it does not reflect the opinions of the public. Furthermore, on May 22, former Fukushima University President Toshio Konno and nine others requested a regional public hearing in Fukushima. At a hearing session of the House of Councilors on May 25, Hajime Matsukubo, Secretary General of the Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center, also pointed out that “the voices of Fukushima are not being reflected in these policies.” However, all these pleas were ignored.

The adoption of the GX Decarbonization Power Supply Bill will disregard the lessons learned from the Fukushima nuclear disaster, threaten the safety of the public, and place a heavy burden on future generations. It will leave behind a harmful legacy for years to come. Even today, the contradictions of the nuclear industry are coming to light in various parts of the country. Bailing out the nuclear industry at the expense of the public is unacceptable. We strongly protest against the


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