Immediately give up nuclear power and decide to move to ‘zero nuclear’ policy
Statement by ODAGAWA Yoshikazu
Secretary General, National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren)
September 20, 2012
Prime Minister NODA Yoshihiko’s cabinet on September 19 shelved the “New Innovative Energy and Environmental Strategy,” which had been proposed on September 14 by the Energy and Environmental Commission to end the nation’s reliance on nuclear power by the end of the 2030s. It instead decided to constantly examine and review the proposed policy.
More than 80 percent of over 80,000 public comments sent to the government and opinions expressed at local hearings called for zero nuclear power to be achieved at the earliest possible time. The demand for zero dependency on nuclear power was manifested by the July 16 rally that attracted 170,000 people calling for departure from nuclear power and by the weekly Friday anti-nuclear protest that has been staged since last March in front of the Prime Minister’s Official Residence.
It was amid these growing anti-nuclear calls that the government’s energy and environmental commission proposed the “New Innovative Energy and Environmental Strategy” that will make it possible to stop all nuclear reactors by the end of the 2030s by using every possible policy means. It did refer to a “zero nuclear power” option, but its realization would be in the 2030s, which is too late. It also affirmed the continuation of the nuclear fuel cycle policy, making the commitment to zero-nuclear power policy ambiguous.
The Japan Business Federation (Keidanren) and other financial leaders angrily reacted to the call for the “zero nuclear” option in the “New Innovative Energy and Environmental Strategy”. The U.S. government also expressed concern over the proposal and pressured Japan to reconsider it. The latest Noda cabinet decision is a measure succumbing to the Japanese financial circles and the U.S. The government has already begun backpedalling. We express indignation and protest to the cabinet decision.
At a news conference on September 18, Keidanren expressed concerns about ending operations of nuclear reactors. They said: (1) It would accelerate the ongoing deindustrialization, or hollowing out of industry; (2) It would make it difficult to secure technologies and personnel needed to support nuclear safety; and (3) It would worsen Japan’s relations with the United States.
The business leaders are ignoring the severe accident that broke out at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant and the immeasurably enormous impact it had on all areas of life. In fact, they are opposed to a majority of the Japanese people’s call for an immediate halt to the operation of all nuclear reactors as well as their increasing conviction that the human kind cannot coexist with nuclear power. They are also attaching importance only to business activities. It is impermissible for the government to go against public opinion by uncritically acceding to the demands of the financial circles and the United States, which have been putting emphasis on economic activities and disregarding the importance of safety measures while covering up risks that nuclear reactors have by propagating the “myth of safety”.
The government says it will revise the basic plan for energy in a new energy strategy to be launched after a “green policy” outline and a “strategy for the reform of power transmission systems.”
We demand that Japan immediately abandon nuclear power generation and end its dependence on nuclear power at the earliest possible time, cancel the plans to build new nuclear plants. We also demand that the government come up with plans to abandon all existing nuclear reactors without restarting them, to begin shifting to using renewable energy sources, and protect industry and jobs in areas that have so far depended on nuclear power plants for their economies.
Zenroren will do all it can to further develop what we have achieved in the recent struggles for the realization of these demands and to contribute to the development of cooperation with all sectors of the people.