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HOME  > Past issues  > 2012 August 15 - 21  > What can cooperatives do to end nuclear power generation?
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2012 August 15 - 21 [NUCLEAR CRISIS]

What can cooperatives do to end nuclear power generation?

August 16, 2012
Akahata ‘Current’ column

This year is designated as the “International Year of Cooperatives” by the United Nations with the catchphrase, “Cooperative enterprises build a better world.” Around 1 billion people in the world are members of agricultural and consumer cooperatives.

With the aim of reducing poverty as well as developing a sustainable economy and society, the U.N. has initiated this year-round campaign to strengthen the role of cooperatives, which operate based on the not-for-profit principle with people united in a common endeavor.

Yoshiwara Tsuyoshi, president of Tokyo’s credit union, Johnan Shinkin Bank, calls for breaking away from dependence on nuclear power generation as one of the tasks of cooperatives. He points out that a credit union is a cooperative which prioritizes people’s lives over profits.

Twenty days after the outbreak of the Fukushima nuclear accident, Johnan Shinkin Bank announced that it will work for a safe society without nuclear power plants. Imagining what would happen if a nuclear accident devastates Tokyo, Yoshiwara states in his book that it was only natural for him to take such action.

Following the announcement, the local credit union sold all stocks and bonds of Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the operator of the crippled nuclear power plant in Fukushima. It reduced its electricity consumption by 25% and set up loan and deposit plans in order to encourage customers’ power saving efforts. For companies to buy energy-conservation equipment, it offers zero-interest rate loans for one year.

“In order to rid the country of nuclear power plants, we must risk a deficit to a certain extent,” said Yoshiwara. He also warns of the dangerous power of money. It was the enticement of money that has made politicians, utilities, and others in the “community of interest” benefitting from nuclear power generation forget how important people’s lives are.
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