KOBE--The ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s policy chief came under fire on June 18 for saying the Fukushima nuclear disaster has not directly led to any deaths in her arguments for restarting idle reactors.
Sanae Takaichi, chairwoman of the LDP’s Policy Research Council, made the remark on June 17 during a meeting of the party’s Hyogo prefectural chapter in Kobe.
“We are in a situation in which no one has ever been killed by an accident at a nuclear power plant (in Japan), including Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s crippled Fukushima No. 1 plant,” Takaichi, 52, said. “We have no choice but to utilize nuclear power by ensuring the safety of the facilities.”
Hiroyuki Arai, an Upper House member from Fukushima Prefecture, told a news conference at the Diet on June 18 that Takaichi was wrong about the facts of the nuclear accident.
“There are people who died during the evacuation,” said Arai, the secretary-general of the New Renaissance Party. “(She) is not facing up to the reality of the situation.”
About 160,000 people in Fukushima Prefecture have been living in evacuation since the accident started in March 2011.
Takaichi on June 18 said she wanted to emphasize that no one has died due to radiation exposure in the Fukushima disaster.
The LDP’s draft of its campaign platform for the Upper House election next month states that the party will “make utmost efforts to win the understanding of local communities” toward restarting nuclear power plants.
Of the nation’s 50 nuclear reactors, only two are online.
At the June 17 meeting in Kobe, Takaichi stressed that reactivating the reactors was necessary to secure a stable power supply. She also said Japan should make the best use of relatively inexpensive energy sources to maintain the competitive edge of the Japanese industry.
“Nuclear power generation costs a vast sum of money if we factor in the costs for decommissioning,” she said. “But the costs for operating nuclear plants are cheaper (than other energy sources).”
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