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15 December, 2014

National Nuclear Union Asks Japanese Government to Restart NPPs Early

On December 4, Japan’s National Nuclear Union — an organization that engages in activities around the country to enlighten people about the necessity of nuclear power — held a meeting in Tokyo.

The members attending the meeting adopted a letter to be sent to the head of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI). Citing the need to revitalize Japan’s economy and clamp down on global warming, the letter calls for the following:

  • The early restart of Japan’s nuclear power plants (NPPs), currently all shut down.
  • Determination of nuclear power’s appropriate share in the country’s energy mix.
  • Reasonable electricity rates.

Mayor Kazuharu Kawase of Tsuruga City, who also chairs the All Japan Council of Local Governments with Atomic Power Stations, addressed the gathering as a guest speaker.

Looking back on his city’s long relationship with nuclear power — which began with the delivery of nuclear-generated electricity for lighting and other purposes to Expo ’70 in Osaka — he talked about the “pride of coexistence and co-prosperity with nuclear power.”

He also said, however, that more Japanese had come to view nuclear power as “very scary” since the March 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi NPS, adding that siting areas were sometimes viewed as “bad fellows,” a perception that is quite troubling to local people.

President and Chief Executive Officer Tsuyoshi Okamoto of the Okamoto Glass Co., Ltd., a manufacturer of specialty glass and a heavy user of electric power, was the next to speak before the audience.

He talked about his concerns, especially about the loss of cost competitiveness, if electricity rates continued to increase. He said that he was worried that Okamoto Glass might thereby lose its leading global position in terms of market share in many product areas, among them dental mirrors.

The next speaker was Dr. Ryuzo Yamamoto, professor of economics at Tokoha University. First explaining why Japan’s economy has tended to lag behind most Western countries since the 1990’s, he stressed the danger of not restarting the country’s NPPs, saying that “the manufacturing sector cannot be expected to grow without a stable power supply.”

The National Nuclear Union clearly reflected that anxiety in the letter adopted at the end of the meeting, saying that another increase in electricity rates would be crippling to heavy power-consuming industries, a major loss for the country’s economy.

The letter also calls for the restart in one year — in addition to Units 1 and 2 at the Sendai NPS, the restarts of which have been given the green light — of 18 NPPs now undergoing compatibility examinations by the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA).

It also urges that electricity rates be lowered in three years’ time to their pre-March 2011 levels, that is, to where they were before the giant earthquake.

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