First off, the 73-year-old chairman of Kyushu Electric, whose Genkai Nuclear Power Plant may re-start as soon as sometime this month. (If this particular nuke plant goes, the entire Japanese archipelago, except for Hokkaido and Okinawa and several far-flung islands in the Pacific, will be "downwind" from this plant.)
Shingo Matsuo (pictured right), chairman of Kyushu Electric Power Company who operates Genkai Nuclear Power Plant, told Asahi Shinbun that the anti-nuclear movement since the Fukushima accident is hurting his business and therefore it is hurting the nation. He calls it "emotional" reaction, the same sort of "baseless rumor" (i.e. radiation, remember?) that is hurting farmers and fishermen in the affected region.
From Asahi Shinbun (7/1/2011):
Commenting on the delay in re-starting the nuclear power plants that have been in regular maintenance due to the accident at TEPCO's Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, Shingo Matsuo, chairman of Kyushu Electric Power Company, told Asahi Shinbun on June 30 that "it is the same as telling someone not to drive a car that has passed inspection. We're suffering a kind of "baseless rumor", brought about by the emotional reaction."
Chairman Matsuo pointed out that the stable supply of electricity from Kyushu is indispensable for the recovery from the March 11 earthquake/tsunami, emphasizing the importance of re-starting the Reactors 2 and 3 at Genkai Nuclear Power Plant (in Genkai-cho, Saga Prefecture [in Kyushu]).
Due to the delay, the fuel cost at Kyushu Electric is increasing by 600 million yen (7.42 million) a day. According to Chairman Matsuo, "We're wasting the fuel cost, and that's negative on the national scale."
The governor of Saga Prefecture, Yasushi Furukawa, is willing to approve the re-start of the aging plant, and Genkai-cho (where the plant is located) has already voted strongly in favor of the re-start. The governor's father worked for Kyushu Electric, and was the general manager at the Genkai PR Center.
Genkai's Reactor 3 uses MOX-fuel. Last December, the reactor went into maintenance earlier than scheduled when the radioactive iodine 4 times the normal level was found in the cooling water for the RPV.
From Sports Hochi (6/30/2011):
「北朝鮮が原発に対してテポドンを撃ってきたらどうしますか。その対策を教えて下さい」―男性株主の質問に、原発事業の担当役員である豊松秀己常務取締役 （５７）が答弁に立った。「テロ対策は、侵入があれば治安機関に通報する。大規模テロには対策本部を設置し、テポドンの場合は国民保護対策本部を作って国 と対応する」その上で「仮に着弾があっても、堅固な立派な格納容器と思っている」と言い放った。関電の原子炉１１基は日本海に面する福井県内にあるが、弾 道ミサイルの標的になっても「大丈夫」との強弁だった。
"What if North Korea attacks your nuclear power plants with their Taepodong missiles? What is your countermeasure?" asked a male shareholder. Managing Director Hideki Toyomatsu, who is in charge of nuclear power generation business, stood up to answer. "For an act of terrorism, if there's an invasion we will inform the authorities. For a big-scale act of terrorism, we will set up the headquarters to deal with the terrorism. If it's a Taepodong missile attack, we will form the headquarters with the national government to protect the citizens." He added, "Even if the plant is hit by the missile, our solid and well-built Containment Vessel will withstand the hit." Kansai Electric has 11 reactors in Fukui Prefecture facing the Japan Sea. Toyomatsu confidently said "Not a problem" even if one of them becomes the target of a ballistic missile.
根拠は不明だが、自信満々の“安全保障宣言”。原子力発電に長年警告を発してきた京大原子炉実験所の小出裕章助教（６１）は、この発言を大いに疑問視。 「仮に格納容器が壊れなくても、配管１本が壊れるだけで炉心溶融（メルトダウン）が起こりえる。格納容器が大丈夫だからというのは、もともと成り立たない バカげた返答」と、関電の見解を一蹴した。
We don't know the basis for this confident "declaration of safety and security". Hiroaki Koide of Kyoto University Research Reactor Institute, who has been sounding alarm against nuclear power generation for a long time, dismisses this remark as nonsense. "Even if the Containment Vessel itself is intact, a meltdown can happen if one pipe is broken. To say that Containment Vessel withstands a missile attack is just an impossible, nonsensical answer."
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry have been strongly pushing for the re-start of all nuclear reactors that have been stopped. Minister Kaieda, who made a ton of money selling books on how to invest in high-risk high-return assets toward the end of Japan's asset bubble, has been visiting the municipalities with nuclear power plants to persuade the municipal governments to allow the re-start. And now the electric companies are saying silly things like these in their effort to ridicule the anti-nuke sentiment as unscientific and unreasonable.
To further teach the citizens of Japan the lesson, the Japanese national government simply ordered 15% electricity cut (link in Japanese) for large factories and offices starting July 1, in the areas supplied by Tokyo Electric and Tohoku Electric, with a fine for the offenders. Kansai Electric has decided to join this wonderful effort to cut electricity consumption.
Never mind that there is more electricity supply than demand anyway, and never mind that more than half the thermal power generation (LNG, coal) are kept off-line.
It is almost as if the government and these large electric power companies would rather see people die from heat exhaustion trying to save electricity, as long as they can teach them the lesson - nuclear power is good, it is necessary, and it is safe. Anyone who says otherwise is unreasonable, unscientific and hysterical.
They did that after the Bikini Atoll. They did that after Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They got away with it every time. We'll find out if this time is different.