Noda's restart call draws anti-nuclear activists' ire

June 09, 2012

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

Anti-nuclear campaigners condemned Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s call on June 8 for the restart of two reactors at the Oi nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture as an attempt to intimidate the Japanese public.

Kazumasa Aizawa, a village assembly member in Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture, which hosts two nuclear facilities, said: “No convincing data has been presented. Still, the prime minister was saying that the reactors would resume operations because of the threat of power shortages. It is intimidation of the public.”

Aizawa, 70, has opposed nuclear power since he became the representative of a plaintiffs group involved in a case relating to the Tokai No. 2 Nuclear Power Plant in 1973. He said he listened to the radio broadcast of Noda’s news conference at home.

“He repeatedly said the government would defend people’s security, but all his words were empty. No word touched my heart,” Aizawa said.

Long-time anti-nuke activist Kazuyuki Takemoto, 62, who lives in Kariwa, Niigata Prefecture, which hosts TEPCO’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant, also criticized the prime minister.

“He pressed the people to reopen the plant, waving power shortages and economic issues (in front of them),” Takemoto said. “It was very much like a threat.”

Takemoto said the Oi nuclear plant, operated by Kansai Electric Power Co., does not have a seismic isolation building, a base for emergency teams responding to a nuclear crisis, and said scientists are concerned that an active geological fault lies directly under the site.

“You cannot possibly say appropriate countermeasures are in place under such conditions,” Takemoto said.

Takeichi Saito, the representative of a study group in Iwanai, near Hokkaido Electric Power Co.’s Tomari nuclear power plant, said Noda failed to show leadership.

“It is a step in (the administration’s) self-destruction,” said Saito, 59. “If the prime minister had decided to examine if we could get by without nuclear power this summer, he would have shown strong leadership.”

About 4,000 people attended an anti-nuclear rally outside the Prime Minister’s Official Residence that began after 6 p.m. on June 8, as Noda started his news conference inside the building, according to the organizers.

In Shizuoka Prefecture, citizens are surveying locals views of a restart of Chubu Electric Power Co.’s Hamaoka nuclear power plant.

“The decision to restart the Oi reactors was too sloppy and rough. It was a political decision giving a top priority to the energy problem,” said Nozomu Suzuki, one of the organizers. “We want to make clear what Shizuoka Prefecture citizens’ want.”

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
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An anti-nuclear demonstration is held in front of the Prime Minister's Official Residence in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward at around 6:30 p.m. on June 8. (Hiroki Endo)

An anti-nuclear demonstration is held in front of the Prime Minister's Official Residence in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward at around 6:30 p.m. on June 8. (Hiroki Endo)

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  • An anti-nuclear demonstration is held in front of the Prime Minister's Official Residence in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward at around 6:30 p.m. on June 8. (Hiroki Endo)

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