Observatory on the nuclear crisis, June 2012

According Greenpeace the full impact of the Fukushima accident will appear over time. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister of Japan decide to restart the Oi nuclear power plant, although the majority of Japanese do not agree.

The Oi nuclear power plant in the Fukui Prefecture. Source: Enformable.

By more than a month, Japan has no nuclear power and the government has convinced local politicians that the reactors can be restarted safely and the prime minister decided to restart the Oi nuclear power plant. According to several observers, the Japanese government is hasty and is showing insensitive to the opinions of citizens, if not indifferent to the lessons of Fukushima.

Nuclear policy and restart of reactors
According The Japan Times, “the central government’s dangerous obsession with restarting the reactors is highlighted by the fact that it has not even worked out a road map to phase out nuclear power generation.”
Considering also that the plutonium reprocessing plan is running when reactors are idle “it is clear that the provisional standards have not made the public confident that the central government is sincerely working to ensure nuclear safety.”

Infact, in a poll conducted by Pew Research Center, 70% of Japanese say their country should reduce its reliance on nuclear energy, as the country’s last nuclear power stations went offline. This is a much larger number than 44% in the weeks following last year’s nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.

The politicians of the Kansai region, which had taken a stand against nuclear power, have changed their mind about the restarting of Oi reactors. According to several analysts, the sudden change of opinion is influenced by the pressure of Kansai Electric Power Co (KEPCO), the Oi plant operator, which threatened the local business with possible blackouts.

Asahi Shimbun says that “operations will resume at the Oi plant without a comprehensive review of nuclear energy policy and before the full implementation of a regulatory structure. If many other nuclear plants are allowed to resume operations through the use of provisional safety standards, that would signal that nothing was learned from the Fukushima accident.”


  • The Prometheus Trap/ Tug of war over future of nuclear energy
    What should be the share of nuclear power generation in the nation’s overall electricity supply? Zero? Twenty percent? Or perhaps more? The Fundamental Issues Subcommittee of the Advisory Committee for Natural Resources and Energy, which advises the minister of economy, trade and industry, was in session on April 11 at the ministry building in Tokyo’s Kasumigaseki district. The task of this subcommittee was to discuss the policy of the administration of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda to wean the nation off nuclear power generation. But the subcommittee’s majority view is that more than 20 percent of Japan’s electricity supply should rely on nuclear energy, even as far down the road as in 2030. The subcommittee consists of 25 members, of whom only about eight favor abandoning nuclear energy. Is this not odd for a group that is supposed to be discussing ways to steer Japan from nuclear power generation?
    Kiyoshi Okonogi, Asahi Japan Watch, June 29, 2012.

  • Japanese Diplomat urges UN intervention on SFP4
    Willacy interviews Japanese nuclear professor Hiroaki Koide, US energy policy adviser Robert Alvarez, TEPCO spokesman Yoshimi Hitosugi, undercover journalist Tomohiko Suzuki and most importantly retired diplomat to Switzerland, Misuhei Murata. Murata states he has written to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, urging international intervention to save the world from another bigger nuclear catastrophe of the spent fuel pool at Unit 4 failing and releasing huge extra amounts of deadly radiation.
    Mark Willacy, ABC Australia via YouTube, June 25, 2012.

  • Nuclear power plant collusion
    The recent government decision to restart the Nos. 3 and 4 reactors at Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Oi nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture only serve to reinforce the widespread belief that the government is continuing to protect the interests of the nuclear power industry even in the wake of the Fukushima disaster.
    Editorial, The Japan Times, June 23, 2012.

  • Nuclear Operator in Japan Exonerates Itself in Report
    The much vilified operator of the tsunami-hit nuclear power plant at Fukushima released a report on Wednesday that said the company never hid information, never underplayed the extent of fuel meltdown and certainly never considered abandoning the ravaged site. It asserts that government interference in the disaster response created confusion and delays.
    Hiroko Tabuchi, The New York Times, June 20, 2012.

  • COMMENTARY: Decision on restarting Oi reactors should not be a precedent
    The decision by the central government on June 16 to resume operations at the Oi nuclear power plant is yet another attempt to rely on the myth of the safety of nuclear plants.
    Keiji Takeuchi, The Asahi Japan Watch, June 17, 2012.

  • COMMENTARY/ Ryuichi Sakamoto: Japanese will have to continue raising voices against nuclear energy
    I have always felt discomfort about the way decisions are made in Japan based on “the mood” rather than “logic,” and without proper discussions regarding principles.
    Ryuichi Sakamoto from an interview by Junko Takahashi, The Asahi Japan Watch, June 15, 2012.

  • COMMENTARY/ Tetsuen Nakajima: Japan must thoroughly re-examine nuclear energy policy
    When I was a student, I was only interested in literature and the arts. Then in 1963, a friend took me to a peace march against nuclear weapons.
    Tetsuen Nakajima from an interview by Kentaro Isomura, The Asahi Japan Watch, June 15, 2012.

  • Researchers urge survey of possible active fault under Oi plant
    Two scientists are calling for an inspection of a possible active fault line under the Oi nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture before two reactors are brought back online.
    Toshio Kawada and Ryuta Koike, The Asahi Japan Watch, June 9, 2012.

  • INSIGHT: Diet panel’s conclusion on TEPCO defies evidence
    A Diet investigative panel concluded that Tokyo Electric Power Co. never planned to withdraw all workers at the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, despite mounting evidence to the contrary.
    Hideaki Kimura, The Asahi Japan Watch, June 9, 2012.

  • The Fukushima Battleground Over Science
    More than a year after the Fukushima nuclear incident, there is still much disagreement about many aspects of its actual consequences. A recent example is a report by the World Health Organization, which estimates radiation doses and cancer risks in the wake of the disaster.
    Its findings are being criticized by other medical professionals who use different assumptions and different science, and accuse the WHO of downplaying the gravity of the health risks for people living in the affected area.

    Aron Lamm, The Epoch Times, June 8, 2012.

  • Official Kansai’s reactor nod puzzles
    Many feel Kepco, firms used threats of power loss to economy; Hashimoto said no nuke foe.
    Eric Johnston, The Japan Times, June 7, 2012.

  • Survey Report: Japanese Wary of Nuclear Energy

    The Japanese public opinion over the use of nuclear power in Japan. Source: Pew Research Center

    70% of Japanese say their country should reduce its reliance on nuclear energy, while support for maintaining nuclear power use is 25%.
    Just 4% of Japanese say the country should expand the use of nuclear power.

    A year ago – in the weeks following nuclear meltdown – Japanese were divided over whether the use of nuclear power in Japan should be reduced (44%) or maintained at its current level (46%) and the 8% said reliance on nuclear power should be increased.

    Pew Research Center, June 5, 2012.


  • Japan’s Latest Nuclear Crisis: Getting Rid of the Radioactive Debris
    Disposing the more than 20 million tons of rubble caused by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami is proving to be a difficult problem for Japan, not least because much of the rubble has been irradiated by the Fukushima nuclear disaster. The government’s plan — to destroy 4 million tons of potentially radioactive earthquake debris in garbage incinerators around the country — is dividing the nation and further delaying the country’s ability to put Fukushima behind it.
    Michael McAteer, The Atlantic, June 4, 2012.

  • Plutonium reprocessing plan raises alarm amid shutdown
    Critics wonder why MOX plan is running when reactors are idle.
    Associated Press, The Japan Times, June 4, 2012.

  • Quickstep to restarting reactors
    The union of nine local governments in Kansai — the Shiga, Osaka, Kyoto, Hyogo, Wakayama, Tokushima and Tottori prefectures plus Osaka and Sakai cities — on Wednesday softened its opposition to the restart of the Nos. 3 and 4 reactors at Kansai Electric Power Co.’s (Kepco’s) Oi nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture. But if the central government decides to restart the Oi reactors, it will be clear that it has not given serious thought to the nuclear catastrophe at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
    Editorial, The Japan Times, June 3, 2012.

  • Japan’s Nuclear Industry: The CIA Link
    In the 15 months since the crisis at Fukushima Daiichi, Japan’s restarting reactors is proving to be politically tricky as a skeptical public questions the safety of atomic energy.
    Rewind almost 60 years and the government had a similar problem: how to persuade the public to support its ambition to become a nuclear nation only nine years after the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki?
    Tetsuo Arima, a researcher at Waseda University in Tokyo, discovered in the U.S. National Archives a trove of declassified CIA files that showed how Matsutaro Shoriki, the head of the Yomiuri Shimbun (Japan’s biggest-selling and most influential newspaper), was instrumental in jumpstarting Japan’s nascent nuclear industry, with help from the CIA.

    Eleanor Warnock, The Wall Street Journal, June 1, 2012.

  • Nuclear spin cannot deny high risks
    Last week the World Health Organisation released its first preliminary analysis of the Japanese people’s exposure to radiation after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, and the renowned German Max Planck Institute released its own report warning of the global risks of the next nuclear accident. Both reports underline the need for better measures in Japan and across the world to protect the public from nuclear risks.
    Rianne Teule, Greenpeace, June 1, 2012.

  • See also the news archive for 2012 and 2011.



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    About Backyard World

    Backyard World is an art and information architecture project on the Fukushima crisis. The project was started March 17, 2011.
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