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HOME  > Past issues  > 2011 July 20 - 26  > ‘Safety myth’ instilled in primary school children
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2011 July 20 - 26 [NUCLEAR CRISIS]

‘Safety myth’ instilled in primary school children

July 16, 2011
A national budget of 6 billion yen or so is used every year to promote nuclear power generation through publicity and education activities. Major advertising agencies such as Dentsu Inc., Hakuhodo Inc., and newspapers such as Sankei Shimbun cooperate with the Japan Atomic Energy Relations Organization (JAERO) to obtain contracts for the publicity project. It is a public imprinting of the “nuclear safety myth” regarding nuclear energy by using tax revenues.

Free 4-day tours and other events

“Where is electricity produced and how is it used?” is the title of a feature article in a two-page spread carried by the Sankei Shimbun (East Japan edition) on October 30, 2010. The article is about an event in which elementary school children of the Metropolitan area and municipalities hosting nuclear power plants visited each other for an exchange and learned about nuclear power generation and environmental issues.

The event, entitled “Exciting expedition on energy,” was organized by the Resources and Energy Agency (REA), the Sankei Shimbun, Fukushima TV, and Niigata Sogo TV. Actually, it was an undertaking commissioned by the REA to enhance exchanges between producing and consuming districts of electricity.

In the event, 60 elementary school children of age 10-12 from the electricity-consuming Tokyo areas and 30 such children from around Osaka City were invited on a two-day tour to explore electricity-producing districts and another two-day tour to electricity-consuming districts. The four-day travel tour was free of charge.

In 2010, they traveled to Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO)’s Fukushima Daiichi NPP as a site producing electricity. The children were taught that about one-fourth of electricity consumed in the metropolitan area is produced at nuclear power plants in Fukushima Prefecture, and that solid foundations are required to construct quake-resistant and robust buildings.

Is insider advantage involved?

The producing-consuming areas exchange project was commissioned to the Sankei Shimbun for three years in a row from FY 2008 to 2010. The FY 2010 commission was 74 million yen, funded from the promotion of power resources development tax added to electricity charges.

The exchange project is based on a nuclear energy policy outline adopted by the cabinet in 2005. Members of the government panel that drew up this outline included Chino Kyoko, then editor in chief of the Sankei Shimbun.

Did the Sankei Shimbun win the contract because its chief editor was on the panel? A person in charge at the REA admitted that it had been possible for Chino during the panel discussion to know of the project ahead of her competitors, but added that they had had a general competitive bidding.

REA ads appear on in-flight magazines

“My pride has been renewed in living in a town that has a nuclear power plant co-existing with traditional sake breweries.” The in-flight magazine of the All Nippon Airways (ANA) “Kingdom of Wings” in its January 2010 issue quotes a brewer of a sake maker in Kashiwazaki City as cited above.

This article, entitled, “Big smiles in a town hosting an NPP,” is an advertisement carried by the REA. The article emphasized that NPPs are equipped with safety measures against possible earthquakes and other emergencies.

This advertisement was drafted by Dentsu. Dentsu in FY 2009 was awarded a 43 million yen commission to advertise in the in-flight magazine as well as in weekly magazines and informational magazines for child-rearing mothers.

Free magazines for junior high school students

The Japan Industrial Location Center (JILC) is a foundation promoting the construction of factories and power stations. Its president is Okamura Tadashi, an ex-president of Toshiba Corporation.

The JILC was commissioned by the REA to publish informational magazines about energy, including “Dreamer,” a full-colored 12-page magazine published four times a year with 48,000 copies. The magazine is distributed to junior-high students in areas having NPPs.

It carries articles on study tours of junior-high students to NPPs and some lessons about radiation. It also carries illustrations on energy drawn by readers. One caption reads, “Carbon dioxide is not emitted when nuclear energy is produced. Clean energy as this should be increased since the global warming is at issue.”

The magazine’s “Handy information on energy” section carries a comparison of energy output between nuclear power generation and renewable energy sources. It claims that a nuclear reactor generates the same amount of energy as 3,482 wind-power generators or 19,343 solar power generator systems. It converts the figure of electricity output into the number of power stations with an intention to emphasize the “superiority” of nuclear energy, and to eventually turn the children’s vision away from the possible use of renewable energy sources.

The FY 2011 budget enacted on March 29 earmarks 2.9 billion yen for publicity on nuclear energy under the control of REA alone. A person in charge at REA says, “The project is already budgeted, but we are considering if we should carry it out or not in the present situation.”
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