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HOME  > Past issues  > 2013 May 8 - 14  > Exporting nuclear power plants ignores Fukushima crisis
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2013 May 8 - 14 [NUCLEAR CRISIS]

Exporting nuclear power plants ignores Fukushima crisis

May 8, 2013
Akahata editorial

Prime Minister Abe Shinzo recently visited Middle Eastern countries during the Japanese Golden Week holidays. He concluded atomic energy agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Turkey, demonstrating his eagerness to have Japanese nuclear power plants (NPP) exported to these nations. A bilateral atomic energy accord is a precondition for NPP exports. He, in effect, secured Turkey’s consent to the NPP construction there jointly by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and French Areva. He has opened the door for exports of Japanese NPPs at the initiative of the government, but it is impermissible for the government of the country which still sees no end in sight to the severe nuclear accident that occurred two years ago at Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO)’s Fukushima Daiichi NPP.

Abe shrugs off Fukushima accident

During his stay in the Middle East, Prime Minister Abe defiantly said at a press briefing, “There are high expectations regarding Japanese high-standard technologies and safety standards after the severe accident.” Although the lax Japanese nuclear power industry brought on the unprecedented critical incident, the head of that state took advantage of it to hype the country’s NPPs as the world’s most technologically advanced and safest nuclear power generation system.

The Fukushima accident occurred after both external and internal power supplies were cut in the 3.11 earthquake and the subsequent tsunami. The plant lost its cooling function resulting in nuclear meltdowns. The resultant release of radioactive materials has inflicted damage on not only Japan but also the world, polluting the air and the ocean. Japan is yet to determine the real cause of the accident and has no idea when it can put an end to the on-going crisis. Concern about how to handle the massive amount of radioactive water from Fukushima reactors has been a focus of recent discussions. Foreign media reported that the Fukushima plant is faced with a new crisis. If such a huge amount of contaminated water escapes into the sea, it will definitely pose a gigantic international problem.

What the nuclear accident has brought to light is not the high standard of Japan’s nuclear power generation technology, but the fact that the technology has a fatal flaw in which nuclear reactors can go out of control once they lose cooling capability. Claiming that a severe accident could never occur, TEPCO and other electric companies propagated the “safety myth” and promoted the construction of more than 50 nuclear reactors. Successive governments led by the Liberal Democratic Party have failed to impose effective regulations on the nuclear power industry. Their lack of responsibility is being called into question.

A responsible administration would do whatever it takes to bring the accident under control and properly assist the disaster victims while pledging to swiftly withdraw from nuclear power generation. The Abe Cabinet, however, retracted the former Democratic Party-led government’s pledge to realize “zero”-nuclear power in the 2030s. It is pushing ahead with reactivation of idled reactors and is actively promoting NPP exports. Instead of facing up to the seriousness of the Fukushima nuclear accident, it has failed to come up with a basic stance to protect citizens’ lives and ensure their safety.

Develop popular movement

The Abe Cabinet continues blatantly to promote nuclear energy in the interest of electric companies and nuclear reactor manufacturers. It is urgent to increase public pressure and strengthen the anti-nuclear movement in order to block the government intent to restart domestic reactors and export NPPs.
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