Home > Japan, op-ed > Japanese govt’s new ideas on Oi nuclear plant defy common sense

Japanese govt’s new ideas on Oi nuclear plant defy common sense

May 31, 2012

Though only a small number of Japanese protest in the streets, opinions polls cited in recent Japanese news reports show a majority of Japanese want a move away from nuclear power.

And indeed the ideas being floated by Noda’s regime at the moment do resemble the sort of looney ideas one would expect from people committed to making others laugh. Prime Minister Noda excels at nonsense but is empty on substance.

In his government’s latest desperate attempt to force a restart of the Oi nuclear plant, the government have proposed “to have senior vice minister or other senior political officials stationed in Fukui.” What a politician would do in an emergency remains to be seen, though if said individual is like other incompetent Japanese officials in the past then one can be assured he – for women are never appointed in a land that loves to preach human rights to the rest of Asia – will only get in the way or simply be irrelevant. In either case this is just smoke and mirrors.

In fact some of these very same people complained ad nauseum  that former Prime Minister Naoto Kan, far senior to a vice minister, was just another politician who got in the way (it is not known for sure if Kan kept Tepco from abandoning the Fukushima plant and making things worse as he states, and there are many unanswered questions about the events on those days). Is having a politician present on-site sensible? Is it a substitute for nuclear regulatory agency that does not yet exist? The Japanese government say it is, but these are the same people who think all of Japan should eat radioactive food because it is harmless.

It gets better.

“In the event of an emergency, we will link the Oi nuclear power plant, Kansai Electric, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, and prime minister’s office via a videoconference system.”

What the Mainichi newspaper does not say is that the government had a multimillion dollar video conference system in place. They just failed to use it. That is correct. On March 11, 2011 and the days and weeks following the world’s worst nuclear disaster – mislabelled “accident” – the Japanese government did not take advantage of the tools at its disposal. Not only did they fail with the video conferencing system, one could argue it would have made absolutely no difference whatsoever.

This week Kan went to parliament and testified that his personal visit to the Fukushima plant on March 15 and his demand that the Tecpo not withdraw personnel from the plant were necessary because “We could hardly get information” and  “We couldn’t do anything” due to the failure of Tepco to provide the government with timely data. What difference would using the video conferencing system have made? Kan said “he and his key ministers were not adequately briefed about the plant’s situation in the first few days” (here).

Either Kan is misrepresenting what occurred and/or Tepco simply refused to provide information to the government about three full meltdowns some experts say they would have known about at that time.

Noda’s idea to put a politician at the Oi reactor also raises another question: If Oi is so potentially dangerous why not just shut it down? Also, if Oi needs a politician on such high rank, what about all the other reactors? With this logic every reactor in Japan (there are 54) should have a senior vice minister on standby and satellite hookup on call to beam to the prime minister’s office. Really what is the point? These people would not be nuclear engineers or safety personnel. The necessary technicians are already employed at the plant reactors. Japan’s best experts are already on standby. And they too will be powerless to stop another meltdown when a large earthquake or tsunami swamps the walls that do not exist (only the Fukushima plant has completed seawalls and they were 100% ineffective against the tsunami).

Noda is misleading the public by saying he will make a decision in future about the restart of the Oi plant. His decision was made the to support nuclear power the day he assumed office. This is nothing more than the shameless game the Japanese government have been playing for years. The latest cowardly announcement by the Union of Kansai Governments  “We will accept the government’s decision.” It also released a statement saying “On the assumption that the government’s safety judgment is provisional, we call on it to make a definitive judgment.” This rubber stamping of the central government’s dictatorial policy is the opposite of democracy. The opinions of a few governors matters not. It is the majority of the Japanese people who are opposed to the restarts, and the Japanese government does not care what they think.

For those in the anti-nuclear camp or those simply opposed to restarts or nuclear power until a thorough investigation of the Fukushima disaster is completed and new standards and procedures are in place, they are stuck relying on their fake opponent of nuclear power, Toru Hashimoto, mayor of Osaka, who is manipulating them for his own anti-democratic political goals. They are mistaken if they see an ally in him. Hashimoto is not opposed to the restarts. He even floated the idea of supporting temporary restarts to prevent power outages. As soon as his party gets more power it will turn on those voters, which is to be expected.

If Japan and the Japanese people are truly concerned about global warming, developing and harnessing alternative forms of renewable energy, the time to invest in the technology is now before the Germans and Chinese get leap years ahead in the technology. Even the number of businesses would support move in this direction, despite Keidanren’s lobbying, numbers around 75% according to recent Japanese press reports. The future is here and if Japan is going to compete on the energy battlefield it will need a renewable arsenal. Prime Minister Noda’s ideas are sinking Japan’s chances to levels in-line with the unelected dictator’s – he is demanding a restart to nuclear plants with no electoral mandate – approval ratings. So much for democracy in Japan.

This is an op-ed piece submitted to Civis Journal by Commodus Diop. The views expressed therein do not necessarily reflect those of the editors or staff at Civis Journal.

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