Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Nuke Plant Politics: METI Sent Energy Agency Chief to Pursuade Governor of Fukui to Re-Start Nuke Plants

The head of the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), met with the chairman of the Chamber of Commerce in Fukui Prefecture to plot the strategy to press the governor of Fukui to agree to re-starting nuclear power plants in Fukui. The Chamber of Commerce chairman is one of the biggest supporters of the governor.

From Asahi Shinbun (7/25/2011):


The Agency for Natural Resources and Energy disclosed on July 25 that it was the Director General of the Agency, Tetsuhiro Hosono, who met with the head of the Fukui Prefecture Chamber of Commerce Tatsuo Kawada. But the Agency said it didn't know whether the director general had solicited Kawada's help in persuading the governor of Fukui, Kazumi (Issei) Nishikawa, who has refused to re-start the nuclear power plants [in his prefecture].


Mr. Kawada revealed on July 24 in a general meeting in Fukui City for Hokuriku Shinkansen (bullet train) promotion for Fukui Prefecture that he met with a high-ranking METI official on June 24, right after Banri Kaieda, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry issued the "safety declaration" for the re-start of the nuclear power plants. Kawada said he was asked during the meeting to cooperate in re-starting the nuke plants [in Fukui Prefecture], with the official saying "we will make sure your request [for the re-start] will be expedited". Mr. Kawada didn't disclose the name of the official.


The public relations department of the Agency admits there was a meeting between the two, that "Mr. Kawada pressed Director General Hosono for the Hokuriku Shinkansen project during the meeting".


Mr. Kawada also serves as the chairman of the Fukui Prefecture Keidanren (Japan Business Federation), and is the largest supporter of Fukui Governor Nishikawa.

Governor Nishikawa, a career bureaucrat from the Ministry of Home Affairs (now the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications) before becoming the governor of Fukui in 2003, may be against the re-start without concrete assurance from the national government as to the safety of the nuclear plants, but he has been pushing hard for the Hokuriku Shinkansen project (to extend the line at least to Tsuruga City in Fukui) which would greatly benefit his prefecture.

Give and take. Will the governor be persuaded by the Hokuriku Shinkansen?

In the meantime, in the meeting of the Nuclear Safety Commission on July 25, the Mayor of Tsuruga City in Fukui Prefecture was newly appointed as a commissioner in the nuclear disaster counter-measures subcommittee of the NSC. He and another bureaucrat from the Aomori prefectural government (also newly appointed on July 25; Aomori is where the Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant is located) are the only two government people appointed to the subcommittee; the rest are the researchers at government and private nuclear research institutions.

The area along the Wakasa Bay in Fukui Prefecture is called "Genpatsu Ginza (nuke plant high street)" with total of 15 nuclear reactors in 5 nuclear power plants.

4 reactors are located in Tsuruga City alone at Tsuruga Nuclear Power Plant (with 2 reactors), the Fast Breeder Reactor Monju and the Advanced Thermal Reactor (ATR) Fugen (being decommissioned).


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