6 ruling party lawmakers propose to delay reactor restarts

April 21, 2012

By SHINICHI SEKINE/ Staff Writer

Six lawmakers of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, elected from Fukushima Prefecture, home to the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, have crafted a proposal to postpone reactivating two nuclear reactors in Fukui Prefecture.

The lawmakers plan to hand the proposal to Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, but officials at the prime minister’s office are reluctant to arrange a meeting, fearing that the move will increase opposition to the restarts within the DPJ.

“It is difficult for Noda to receive the proposal directly,” an aide to Noda said.

The six lawmakers include DPJ supreme adviser Kozo Watanabe and Upper House members Teruhiko Mashiko and Emi Kaneko. Foreign Minister Koichiro Genba and Izumi Yoshida, parliamentary secretary for finance, who are members of the Noda Cabinet, have not taken part although they also belong to the DPJ’s Fukushima prefectural chapter.

The government on April 13 concluded that it is appropriate to restart the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at the Oi nuclear power plant, which were shut down for regular inspections.

The six lawmakers criticized that the decision was made “too hastily” and it disappointed residents of Fukushima Prefecture, many of whom were forced to evacuate after the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant was hit hard by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011.

The proposal, compiled on April 19, also criticized the government’s declaration at the end of last year that the nuclear accident has been brought under control, saying that such a judgment is far from the reality.

“(Residents of Fukushima Prefecture) have been forced to live hard lives amid anxiety and fear,” the proposal said.

In addition to consent from the local governments that host the Oi nuclear plant, the lawmakers said some conditions must be met before the reactors are brought back online.

One condition is that the government must incorporate the findings of the accident investigation committees of the government and the Diet after they release the reports. Another is that the government must establish new safety evaluation screening guidelines after a new nuclear regulatory agency is set up.

Fukushima Governor Yuhei Sato is strongly opposed to the government's plans to restart the Oi reactors, asking whether it understands the severe reality of the nuclear accident.

One of the six lawmakers said, “(The lessons of) the accident in Fukushima won't be heeded if nuclear reactors are restarted before the accident is brought under control.”

By SHINICHI SEKINE/ Staff Writer
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Kozo Watanabe (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Kozo Watanabe (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

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  • Kozo Watanabe (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
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