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HOME  > Past issues  > 2011 September 7 - 13  > Gorgeous festival floats funded by NPP money
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2011 September 7 - 13 [NUCLEAR CRISIS]

Gorgeous festival floats funded by NPP money

September 7 and 8, 2011
Structure of reliance on NPP money (Part 4)

The Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan (FEPC), made up of 10 electric power companies, is a major promoter of nuclear power generation along with the government. “The FEPC used an average of 2 billion yen annually for advertisements in the past five years,” said Yagi Makoto, the FEPC president and Kansai Electric Power Co. president, in the Lower House special committee meeting in July.

However, people concerned point out that FEPC’s money for ads in fact amounts to over 500 billion yen.

Aomori Prefecture is where the FEPC leads in nuclear power generation. Its money is poured into various activities of citizens and municipalities in the prefecture, ranging from shamisen (traditional instrument) music competitions and the promotion of local apple wine to making maps for tourists.

In 2009, a director of a public facility for children in Aomori City built a log cabin on a big tree as a “secret base” for local children to play in. The cost of building it was 2.5 million yen, 1.9 million of which was subsidized by the Mutsu-Ogawara Industrial Development Foundation.

The foundation, set up by Aomori Prefecture in 1989, is funded by donations from the power company federation. Five billion yen, or 50% of its founding capital, was paid by the FEPC.

In 1994, the FEPC gave a donation of 2.47 billion yen to the foundation as a special measure to be used for a limited time period. However, the time limit for use has been extended and an accumulated total of 12 billion yen is available for use until 2013.

Promoting ‘understanding’ of N-power

“The Mutsu Foundation’s subsidy project is popular as being ‘user-friendly’. It can be spent on anything except for staff costs and repaying debts,” boasts a member of the foundation staff.

The foundation’s subsidy is used in building gorgeous festival floats for a traditional parade that takes place in Goshogawara City in August every year. The sight of floats 15-20 meters tall parading through the city streets is the festival highlight.

This year, 19 floats were paraded before 1.46 million tourists. Three conspicuous 22-meter-high floats had signboards reading “Mutsu-Ogawara Foundation for promoting nuclear fuel cycle project.” The foundation provided 40 million yen for making the floats.

The Aomori prefectural authorities commented that the federation’s subsidies enhance people’s understanding of the benefits of the nuclear power projects.

Rewards for NPP acceptance

A booklet entitled “For rich and vital local communities,” released by the Aomori Prefectural government, lists companies invited to the prefecture through the mediation of the FEPC. The booklet states, “The construction of nuclear fuel cycle facilities has led 15 companies to open businesses in the prefecture and helped to create about 870 jobs.” These companies are mainly machine parts manufacturers.

The reason why the FEPC provides such generous treatment to Aomori is because the prefecture accepted the construction of controversial nuclear fuel cycle facilities.

The prefectural government in 1985 decided to accept the FEPC’s request made the previous year to open the facilities.

The central government provides subsidies to municipalities hosting nuclear power plants (NPPs) and their neighboring municipalities. In Aomori, 15 cities, towns, and villages receive the government subsidies.

When the nuclear fuel cycle plan emerged, not only residents in the planned construction sites and their surrounding areas but also people across the prefecture raised voices in opposition. As if to face down the opposition, the Mutsu-Ogawara Industrial Development Foundation was established in order to confer benefits to areas that are ineligible for the central government’s NPP-related subsidies.

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