The nation’s largest business organization has taken issue with the government’s three proposals on the ratio of nuclear energy to overall electricity generation in 2030.
In a written opinion, Keidanren (Japan Business Federation) on July 27 said each of the three options--for zero percent, 15 percent or 20-25 percent nuclear energy--has serious problems in terms of feasibility and impact on the economy.
The organization also called on the government to come up with more realistic targets for renewable energies and energy saving while constructing new nuclear power plants or renewing existing ones.
Other major business organizations voicing their criticism of the proposals include the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) and Keizai Doyukai (Japan Association of Corporate Executives).
Tadashi Okamura, chairman of JCCI, submitted the organization's written opinion to Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura on July 27. It said all of the three options are unfeasible.
Keizai Doyukai plans to compile its own written opinion shortly.
Keidanren said in its written opinion that the zero-percent option would oblige the Japanese people to shoulder a huge burden, and was the most problematic in terms of feasibility. The opinion criticized the 15-percent plan, as well, saying, “The government cannot responsibly choose this scenario.”
Keidanren was slightly more positive on the plan for 20-25 percent nuclear energy, which accepts the construction of new nuclear power plants or the renewal of existing ones. The group approved of the government continuing to support nuclear power plants, but added, “The idea needs to be reworked into a more realistic one.”
Additionally, both Keidanren and JCCI criticized the scenarios for lacking consistency with the government’s growth strategy. The Noda administration aims to achieve annual economic growth of 2 percent, the prerequisite for a consumption tax increase.
However, the scenarios for the three energy options are based on a growth rate of only 1 percent.
The business organizations also say the three options are based on the assumption that a rise in electricity bills and a negative effect on economic growth are inevitable.
A rise in electricity bills would encourage companies to transfer their factories overseas, and higher electricity rates would make it difficult for many small- and middle-sized companies to survive.
JCCI expressed its growing sense of alarm, saying, “The manufacturing industry will disappear from Japan.”
The business organizations are also skeptical of the government’s projections for the introduction of solar and wind power.
At present, solar panels are installed on about 900,000 homes. However, the options of 15 percent and 20-25 percent are based on the assumption that they will be installed on 10 million homes, almost all of the houses that can be equipped with those panels.
The zero-percent option further assumes that houses that have problems in their quake-resistance abilities will be renovated and equipped with solar panels and that, as a result, the number of homes with solar panels will rise to 12 million.
The government’s energy-saving targets contain strict measures for businesses. Under the zero-percent plan, boilers that use heavy oil as fuel would be banned in principle. The sale of equipment and facilities with poor energy-saving capabilities and the use of gasoline-powered vehicles in downtown areas would also be restricted.
Keidanren Chairman Hiromasa Yonekura expressed his doubts on the three options.
“Each of these plans is based on excessively optimistic premises. If those scenarios are not realized, who will take responsibility?”
Yasuchika Hasegawa, chairman of Keizai Doyukai, said, “It is going to be difficult for the government to make a decision on which of the three options to choose by the end of August.”
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