IWAKI, Fukushima Prefecture--The Diet’s Lower House Economy, Trade and Industry Committee has decided to call a special meeting by the end of this month over the radioactive water leaks at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
The committee, which discusses budget issues over the cleanup effort, decided to hold the special session as early as Sept. 27 after conducting an on-site inspection of the Fukushima No. 1 plant on Sept. 12, and after it met with local fishermen and their representatives.
“We have already started working to hold the meeting by the end of this month … at all costs,” said Shigeyuki Tomita, the Diet committee's chairman and a lawmaker for New Komeito. He also indicated he will call on industry minister Toshimitsu Motegi as well as Naomi Hirose, president of Tokyo Electric Power Co., operator of the damaged plant, to attend the planned session.
Tomita also told reporters on Sept. 12, “I am satisfied with the schedule and timing on conducting the inspection.”
The Diet committee plans to set an exact date for the meeting after Tomita returns from an overseas trip.
Although the Diet is currently not in session, there are mechanisms in place that allow for the holding of committee sessions on matters of urgency.
The committee on Aug. 30 first started considering holding a special session on the radioactive leak issue. But it decided to push back the meeting in an apparent bid to avoid negative publicity ahead of the Sept. 7 vote by the International Olympic Committee on which city would host the 2020 Summer Games.
The same day as the on-site inspection, members of the Lower House Committee also attended a meeting with officials from the Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations.
Tetsu Nozaki, head of the federation, demanded the Diet committee make the radiation leak issue top priority.
“We are aware that you have a lot to discuss, such as securing energy sources for the nation, but we call on you to find countermeasures against the Fukushima nuclear accident,” Nozaki said at the meeting.
Another federation official said, “We understand the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is one of the most important projects for Japan, but if the Diet delays dealing with these issues afflicting Fukushima Prefecture, the prefecture will suffer.” He then added, “Whether we will be able to survive or not depends on how you, our lawmakers, deal with the problem.”
Fisheries cooperatives in Fukushima Prefecture earlier postponed their initial plans to start in early September test fishing operations due to the radioactive water that continues to leak into the ocean from the stricken nuclear facility. The Soma-Futaba fisheries cooperative association decided on Sept. 12 to resume test fishing operations off the prefecture by the end of this month.
“The radioactive water leak issue is reported in newspapers and TV day after day,” a third fisheries federation official told the members of the Lower House Committee. “We hope you will discuss measures on how to convince consumers that our fisheries products are safe.”
The committee chairman, Tomita, said he accepted their words with sincerity.
(This article was written by Yuki Nikaido and Shinya Sugizaki.)
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