Lawyer, writers call for legislation on nuclear phaseout

August 21, 2012

By MASAKAZU HONDA/ Staff Writer

A group of big-name anti-nuclear activists led by Nobel laureate Kenzaburo Oe and musician Ryuichi Sakamoto is pushing lawmakers to support legislation that would phase out nuclear energy by fiscal 2025.

Members of the "Datsu Genpatsu Ho Seitei Zenkoku Network" (National network for legislation of a nuclear phaseout law) hope to have a cross-partisan group of lawmakers submit the bill to the current Diet session. Oe and Sakamoto founded the group along with Kenji Utsunomiya, former president of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, writer Jakucho Setouchi, and Katsunobu Sakurai, mayor of Minami-Soma, Fukushima Prefecture.

A summary bill drafted by the group says nuclear power generation is extremely vulnerable in terms of energy security due to the unresolved issue of waste disposal and because a nuclear accident could cause catastrophic damage, as well as a sudden loss of a huge slice of the nation's power supply.

The draft argues it is essential to establish a stable, nuclear-free power supply that includes renewable energy to overcome those challenges. To that end, the bill would oblige the government to adopt a basic plan to phase out nuclear energy that would ban the building of new nuclear reactors and limit the operational life of existing reactors to 40 years without exception in order to decommission all nuclear reactors as early as possible, before the end of fiscal 2025.

Submittal of a lawmaker-initiated bill involving budgetary measures requires the approval of 50 or more Lower House members and 20 or more Upper House members. Oe's group expects to reach that target easily, as more than 120 lawmakers from the ruling Democratic Party of Japan alone signed a petition in June calling for reconsideration of the government decision to restart reactors at the Oi nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture.

The group also hopes a Lower House dissolution and snap election--a much-discussed possibility--would provide an opportunity to use the bill as a litmus test to judge the candidates' position on nuclear energy.

By MASAKAZU HONDA/ Staff Writer
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Writer Kenzaburo Oe speaks at the podium during a rally calling for a phaseout of nuclear energy in Tokyo's Hibiya Park on June 6. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Writer Kenzaburo Oe speaks at the podium during a rally calling for a phaseout of nuclear energy in Tokyo's Hibiya Park on June 6. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

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  • Writer Kenzaburo Oe speaks at the podium during a rally calling for a phaseout of nuclear energy in Tokyo's Hibiya Park on June 6. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
  • Protesters assemble outside the National Diet Building in Tokyo to call for a phaseout of nuclear energy on July 29. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

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