Dozens of local government leaders banded together under the anti-nuclear umbrella April 28 in calling for a nuclear-free society.
They formally established a group called the coalition of local heads aiming to create communities that do not rely on nuclear energy and achieve a nuclear-free Japan.
Sixty-four of the members head municipalities in 35 prefectures. The remaining six are former mayors.
They will press the central government to draw up a road map to achieve “zero nuclear power plants” as a national policy and work together to promote the use of renewable energy.
The members include Sapporo Mayor Fumio Ueda, Nagoya Mayor Takashi Kawamura and Nobuto Hosaka, mayor of Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward.
Another member is Tatsuya Murakami, the mayor of Tokai village in Ibaraki Prefecture, where the Tokai No. 2 nuclear power plant is situated.
Murakami told reporters after the first general meeting in Tokyo that the time had come for Japan to shift from nuclear power generation.
“It is difficult to maintain nuclear plants in Japan,” Murakami said. “We should switch.”
He is the only member from a municipality that hosts a nuclear power plant.
The inaugural meeting was held in the main office of Johnan Shinkin Bank in Tokyo’s Shinagwa Ward.
There was strong symbolism in the choice of venue as the bank has elected to buy its electricity from suppliers that do use nuclear power as part of its campaign to end Japan's reliance on this energy source.
Many of the 20 or so leaders who attended the meeting expressed frustration with the Noda administration, saying it had failed to present a clear-cut path toward eliminating the nation's reliance on nuclear power.
They agreed to step up pressure on the administration. They also adopted a resolution opposing plans to reactivate the Oi nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture before more in-depth studies on safety concerns are carried out.
The resolution also includes a demand for the administration to stipulate “zero nuclear power plants” in its new, basic energy policy it is expected to compile this summer.
The group plans to meet twice a year.
Katsunobu Sakurai, the mayor of Minami-Soma in Fukushima Prefecture who stepped into the national spotlight as the head of a municipality directly affected by the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant last year, said it was vital that the central and local governments understood the need to end the nation's reliance on nuclear power.
“The head of a local government will be pushed into such a tough situation to protect its residents (once a nuclear disaster occurs),” Sakurai told reporters after the meeting. “I want to convey a need to switch to a new energy policy.”
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