For people wanting to give input to the government at a public hearing on what the nation's reliance on nuclear power should be in 2030, they had to be selected in a drawing.
Of the 170 people or so attending the first of a series of public hearings, held in Saitama on July 14, only nine were selected to present their opinions, each for 10 minutes.
The government kicked off the public hearings before it decides on the ratio of nuclear power in 2030, a key issue after the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. There will be hearings in 10 other cities held by Aug. 4.
At the end of August, the Energy and Environment Council, a panel of Cabinet ministers, will decide a new energy policy, selecting the ratio of nuclear power from three options: 0 percent, 15 percent and 20-25 percent.
The government is accepting public comments on the Internet by Aug. 12 and will also analyze people’s opinions through a new “deliberative polling” method.
At the meeting in Saitama, industry minister Yukio Edano said the government’s basic policy is a shift from nuclear power to energy conservation and renewable energy.
However, one of the nine people chosen in the drawing asked, “Can the government make a responsible selection of nuclear power without taking responsibility for the nuclear accident?”
Participants also criticized the government for not making clear how to incorporate people’s opinions into the decision-making process.
Edano has only said the government will judge public consciousness in a comprehensible manner based on the comments it received.
Public hearings, online applications of comments and deliberative polling are all scheduled in a one-month period through mid-August.
At the Saitama hearing, three were chosen to speak for each option.
A woman who backs zero dependence said the government must decide how to dispose of nuclear waste.
The ratio will fall to 15 percent in 2030 if reactors older than 40 years are decommissioned in line with government policy.
A man who supports this option said reactors need to be restarted if the electricity supply falls short.
A man who backs 20-25 percent said it is important to reduce the cost of power generation.
The ratio of nuclear power was 26 percent before the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant last year.
For each option, the government has presented estimates for the ratio of renewable energy, greenhouse gas emissions, electricity charges and other issues.
(This article was written by Toru Nakagawa and Mari Fujisaki.)
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