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Break with Nuclear Power
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Japan-Jordan nuclear pact given up

August 26,2011
House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee on August 25 abandoned a vote on a pact to promote export of a nuclear power plant to Jordan.

The Democratic, the Liberal Democratic, and the Komei parties had agreed that the vote would be held on August 26, but the plan was dropped after strong criticism from the public.

The Japanese Communist Party has slammed as irresponsible the export of nuclear power plants (NPPs) at a time when Japan is still plagued by the Fukushima NPP disaster, calling for cancellation of the planned treaty with Jordan.

Japan and Jordan signed the Nuclear Cooperation Agreement on September 2010. The treaty was forcibly pushed through the House of Councilors on March 31 this year by the DPJ, the LDP, and the Komei Party in the midst of the ongoing nuclear accident after the Great East Japan Earthquake.

In the House of Representatives, the pact was originally scheduled to be put to a vote on April 13, one day after the IAEA declared the Fukushima NPP accident a Level 7 incident. The plan was foiled by the opposition raised by JCP Dietmember Kasai Akira, who warned that the export would severely undermine Japan’s reputation in the world.

The DPJ-led government on August 5 once again decided to pursue an NPP export plan, insisting that Japan should offer NPPs with the world’s highest safety standard. In response to strong backing from business circles for an early approval of the pact,
The DPJ, LDP, and Komei rescheduled the vote on the treaty on August 26.

This plan was overturned after the August 24 hearing of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives. Various experts invited to the hearing expressed their opposition to the hasty approval of the treaty.

Aoyagi Naganori, former researcher at the Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute, questioned plans to export NPPs that have no safety guarantee, as neither investigations in the cause of the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident nor a review of the safety standards for NPPs have been completed. He termed the conclusion of the pact “inadequate.”

Another witness, Tanabe Yuki, a board member of the non-government Japan Center for a Sustainable Environment and Society (JACSES), pointed out the planned NPP site in Jordan is located in one of the most arid areas in the world, where water necessary for cooling reactors is very scarce. Among the many problems he mentioned were the risk of possible earthquakes, its proximity (40km) from the capital city of Amman, and the danger of terrorism or military conflicts.

Even members from the ruling parties admitted, among other things, that “Hitherto unknown facts were presented,” and “We may have to relocate the site.”

The DPJ, LDP, and Komei have still not changed their position on the NPP export plan. Nuclear cooperation agreements with Vietnam, Russia, and South Korea are also in the pipeline for the next session of the Diet.

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