Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Japanese Government to Make "Political" Decision to Restart Ooi Nuclear Power Plant in June

Politicians, from the prime minister down to heads of municipalities, simply do whatever they want, and say they will take responsibility for their political decisions as if they would remain in office for life. In this case, the decision involves the restart of Ooi Nuclear Power Plant in Ooi-machi in Fukui Prefecture.

The town is very much eager to restart the plant. It is not just the town's politicians but the residents who are all for it because their jobs depend on the plant in direct and indirect ways.

Yomiuri Shinbun reports that Ooi Nuke Plant may be restarted in June, now that the conditional agreement from the Union of Kansai Governments, a political alliance of 7 prefectures in Kansai Region set up in 2010 whose aim is to create a semi-autonomous political and administrative block limiting the power of the central government.

In this case, the Union seems like a convenient cover to override the dissent within the Union and to let the central government restart the plant operated by Kansai Electric (KEPCO) in one of the member prefectures.

From Yomiuri Shinbun (5/30/2012):


Restart of Ooi Nuke Plant to be decided in first half of June, after the Kansai governors agreed


The government held a ministerial meeting headed by Prime Minister Noda on May 30 over the restart of Reactors 3 and 4 at Ooi Nuclear Power Plant (located in Ooi-cho in Fukui Prefecture). The ministers came to a conclusion that there was a certain understanding of the safety of the plant among the municipalities in Kansai Region.


Prime Minister Noda is to ask Fukui Prefecture and Ooi-cho for consent to restart the plant. If the consent is obtained, the ministerial meeting will be held sometime in the first half of June to formally decide to restart the plant.


In the meeting with Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Edano, Minister in charge of nuclear accident Hosono, and Chief Cabinet Minister Fujimura, Prime Minister Noda said, "We are getting a certain understanding from the related municipalities. If the decision by the municipality where the nuclear power plant is located is obtained, we will discuss the matter thoroughly in the ministerial meeting. Eventually, I would like to make the decision [to restart] under my responsibility."


All 50 nuclear reactors have been stopped after the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident in March 2011. If the reactors at Ooi Nuclear Power Plant restart, they will be the first to do so after the accident.


The Union of Kansai Government (headed by Governor of Hyogo Prefecture)released the statement on May 30 that said, "[Our] evaluation of safety is provisional, and we strongly urge (the national government) to decide appropriately that the scope of the restart is limited". With the statement, the Union has effectively agreed to the restart, provided that the plant operates only during the summer. The national government has determined [from the statement] that a "certain understanding from the consumer of electricity" has been obtained, which is one of the government's conditions for a restart of a nuclear power plant. After the release of the statement, Governor of Hyogo Prefecture Ido told reporters, "We will leave the final decision to the national government. We are in no position to take further action at this time", emphasizing that it would be up to the national government.

So these 4 ministers, dexterously maneuvered by Mr. Sengoku from beyond the scenes, make a political decision to restart a nuclear power plant. Nuclear power generation still is the "national policy" where all decisions therefore are made politically (as if politics can ensure safety). And the Union of Kansai Governments, despite the stated objective to be more "independent" of the central government, simply tosses the ball back to the central government.

Noda asking for "consent" is a mere formality, just like those town hall meetings to "discuss" whether to accept a nuclear power plant, a restart of a nuclear power plant, or disaster debris. As to his "responsibility", he is not likely to remain a prime minister of Japan for long (although he could surprise people on that).

But what's most notable was the remark by Goshi Hosono, which is not in the above Yomiuri Shinbun news but was reported by Fukui Broadcasting Co (Nippon Television Network) in Fukui Prefecture (5/30/2012). The Fukui Broadcasting Co. piece demands the strong national government policy decision, and quotes Goshi Hosono as saying:


"There is no limit to assuring safety. We will aim for a higher safety as we make sure to incorporate new knowledge."

NHK has a bit more details:


"It's not possible to take all the necessary measures [to ensure safety] of nuclear power plants. The government thinking is to take ever-higher levels of measures based on new knowledge."


"We will establish a new set of safety standards under the Nuclear Regulatory Agency [to be created], and will re-evaluate Ooi Nuclear Power plant. If the re-evaluation reveals something wrong, we will take strict measures including stopping the use of the plant."

(Hosono really doesn't know what he's talking about...)

Many Japanese have interpreted his remark as: "It is not possible to achieve 100% safety, therefore we will simply restart the plant and see what happens. If something bad happens, then we will stop the plant."

Mr. Hosono also promised that one of the two Senior Vice Ministers of Economy, Trade and Industry will be stationed in Ooi-cho supposedly to keep an eye on the plant and make sure it's "safe". Isn't that reassuring.

If the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident taught us anything, it is that you cannot necessarily stop the plant when something bad does happen. All these politicians must be hoping that won't happen during their tenures.


Maju said...

They'd be more worried if there were thousands demonstrating every weekend in Central Tokyo against nukes. If the people is sheeply, governments do as they want.

That was bad already in the past but nowadays, when each local decision can have global consequences...

Atomfritz said...

I agree.

Even better, if a few thousand people would try to peacefully block the only, narrow road that the Ooi plant can be accessed by, they could succeed in turning off the plant because nuclear shift workers couldn't reach their workplace.

Anonymous said...

With a little thought, I imagine a much smaller group of people, or even a single person acting alone would be able to delay this restart. This would not require thousands. The well-placed efforts of a few people could make all the difference this summer. You only need 90 days of delay to perhaps stop this plant from ever reopening.

From the story, the Kansai politicians seem to be talking about opening the plant for the high energy consumption months of summer - July, August and September in Japan. If the plant opening is delayed until later than September, it probably won't be reopened. By next summer, the electric companies should have plans to deal with the shortages (just like TEPCO tried to create panic last summer, but seems ready to meet demand this summer).

Getting trough this summer without Ooi would be a huge victory for the anti-nuke message. And the ultimately evil nuclear mura knows it. They are evil but they are also intelligent and they cheat. They will be fighting hard and fighting dirty to get this plant opened this summer.

Patriots in Japan must stand up. And they must stand up this summer if Noda and his cronies have their way with the Ooi plant.

If Noda moves forward with his threats of nuclear war against the Japanese people, I think he will meet the end of his political career this summer. And with the efforts of a few patriots, the plant won't be restarted anyway.

kintaman said...

Japan is a democracy.

I know many other jokes too.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

@kintaman, that's a good one.

JAnonymous said...

The good thing with not being sure about their tenure, is that they can always count on someone coming afterwards and saying "it's everyone's fault".

This is known as the dilution principle. It's used by nuclear lobby from politics down to engineering : we will not dump heavily contaminated water, only lightly contaminated. It's all the same, just add more water.

Anonymous said...

Now is the time to stop nuclear power in Japan once and for all. Do not let any of these plants open or it will be the end of Japan as you know it. Now is the time to to step up and save the land, forests, food, water, children and future generations. The time to act is now.

Anonymous said...

To anon@7:07PM You seem very passionate about this. If Noda decides to go ahead with his plan to start this reactor, please come to the Ooi plant in Fukui Japan this summer to help if you can. If you get here, someone will give you food and a place to stay.

Anonymous said...

Same goes for anyone who is passionate about ending nuclear power in Japan. If Noda decides to re-open this plant, please come to Japan and help show that the WORLD is against this plan also, and after what Fukushima did to the pacific ocean, it IS clearly the WORLD'S BUSINESS and the WORLD does deserve a say in Japan's plans.

statravel. com has some great student travel deals for all you college students looking for a mission this summer. I think you will find plenty of people in Japan who will help support you with homestay if you come to protest in Fukui. You should be able to find a host at your first protest, so don't worry about making arrangements in advance.

Wait for Noda to announce plans to reopen Ooi, and then book your airfare and just get here. Don't worry about the rest.

If you have any problems or questions, or need any advice, please post a comment anywhere on this blog or on fukushima diary site. Someone will answer you.

Anonymous said...

the Japs have really sold the world down the river , they will have all the reactors in japan online again within a year guarranteed, they wont listen to anyone and when there is another accident they will cover things up again...

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

Anon above, I do not moderate or restrict the comment section except for the word "Jap" or the plural form. Sorry if it is just me, but this is my blog and that's my rule.

Anonymous said...

I bet the Senior Vice Minister will ensconce himself in a watering hole/red light district a few kilometres away from the Ooi plant, making an occasional perfunctory visit to verify its safety.

Chibaguy said...

@anon 7:48, wrong blog to make such a blanket statement that does not reflect reality at all. Comments like this make me think that critical thinking is losing.

Anonymous said...

its interesting how the japanese dont like the word Jap but foreigners in Japan are constantly called Gaijin which is very derogatory..

Anonymous said...

It's you again... It is not derogatory to call foreigners gaijin. It's in your head.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

Anon, I don't know about the Japanese. I'm saying I don't like it.

Beppe said...

If they manage to start those two at Oi all the others will be started in no time as well.

Chibaguy said...

@anon 9:45, I suggest you spend 10 more years in Japan and figure out what gaijin means and why the Japanese use it. Do you find 外製 offensive as well?

Anonymous said...

It's pretty easy to explain why these "leaders" are perfectly willing to sacrifice children's lives over this Oii issue. No, it is not about some theory of everybody is a pawn for the good of the nation.
It is about money. Kansai electric is a company. Companies have to have assets, otherwise they have no value. Kansai Electrics assets are...nuclear power stations (built on active faults).
If they lose them, they lose their assets and could become bankrupt. So, even though we don't need NPPs, we have to use them otherwise a lot of shareholders will lose their investment

Beppe said...

So the goverment protects the shareholders rather than the citizens and the taxpayers.
Actually it does more than just protect, because in 2011 the same goverment had just granted an extension to the operative life of the oldest reactor at Fukushima 1 beyond the 40 years it was designed to last, and to pay itself back.

Beppe said...

@Chibaguy, I live in Japan since more than 15 years and gaijin IS derogatory; this is however not a good reason to use even more derogatory words.
If you ask me, I would rather be addressed as 外国の方 since even gaikokujin stinks of immigration office ;-)

Darth3/11 said...

If I go to Fukui to protest plans to restart the Ooi npp, I shall be pleased as punch to write 外国人だ on my sign, and 人 の世界 as well! Does not matter the terms, a completely irrelevant thread to the real problem facing us all. Those plants are not safe, clean, and cheap. They are dangerous, radioactively dirty, and hell expensive. IF ONLY the money poured into them had gone to renewables, which are the only true longterm source. Now, the nonrenewable energy corporations need to figure out how to move their considerable power into that direction. Ultimately, it is the only way.

Anonymous said...

"the #### have really sold the world down the river , they will have all the reactors in japan online again within a year guarranteed, they wont listen to anyone..."

Apart from its offensive language, this argument is ignorant and wrong headed for the simple reason that there is no entity such as "the Japanese" that bears collective responsibility for economic and political decisions taken in Japan, least of all decisions around the use of nuclear power.

In actual fact the decision to nuclearise Japan was taken by a relatively small clique with people like Nakasone and Shoriki at its head. This clique had the unstinting support of the US government and the American nuclear industrial complex (as opposed to "the Americans" or "the Yanks" or any other such ridiculous fiction).

m a x l i said...

In this article laprimavera said:
"The town is very much eager to restart the plant. It is not just the town's politicians but the residents who are all for it because their jobs depend on the plant in direct and indirect ways."

Well, there are also millions of farmers, fishers, tourism industry employees..., virtually anyone across the country, whose jobs depend on the plant not restarting.

m a x l i said...

I wonder, what the thousands of workers/engineers, who must do the "dirty work" at Fukushima-Daiichi, in order to prevent a far bigger escalation of the situation for the japanese people, think about those plans to restart a nuclear plant. Will there be enough qualified labour force left, to treat a "second Fukushima" the same way for the next 30+x years?

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