Japan Institute for National Fundamentals

Speaking out

Yoshiko Sakurai

【#213】Nuclear Policy Should Be Based on Science and Reason

Yoshiko Sakurai / 2013.09.25 (Wed)

September 24, 2013

       It is important for us to give priority to science and reason in dealing with nuclear power plants. The Democratic Party of Japan abandoned science and emotionally dealt with the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant accident, ending up with mistakes in almost all aspects. The Liberal Democratic Party is in a position to correct DPJ mistakes. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is required to send scientific, reasonable messages.
       In this sense, I doubt the reasonability of Abe’s September 19 request for decommissioning the No. 5 and 6 reactors of the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

Politicians should guide public opinions
       We cannot tolerate the fact that Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the Fukushima Daiichi plant, has failed to take prompt actions to address problems with the plant's No. 1 to 4 reactors crippled by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. But the No. 5 and 6 reactors, as well as the Fukushima Daini nuclear plant of TEPCO and Tohoku Electric Power Co.'s Onagawa plant, survived the largest earthquake-tsunami disaster in 1,000 years, symbolizing Japan's excellent nuclear technology. We should be proud of the excellent technology. While severely criticizing the chain of mistakes and failures involving the nuclear plant accident, we must recognize the excellence of Japanese nuclear technology.
       Prime Minister Abe cited focusing on the leakage of radiation-contaminated water as the reason for requesting TEPCO to decommission the two uninjured reactors, while Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga pointed to local residents' demand for decommissioning the reactors. Actually, Japan cannot maintain nuclear plants without resolving the contaminated water problem and obtaining approval from residents living close to the plants.
       Under such circumstances, however, politicians should not only make political considerations but also advocate a policy based on the scientific viewpoint. If local residents' emotional opposition to nuclear plants has made it impossible for the two uninjured reactors to be restarted, politicians should simultaneously explain the situation to the public and offer a policy of maintaining nuclear plants representing excellent technology. Unless such policy is given, the prime minister's request for decommissioning the two reactors could end up as a political gesture.
       The prime minister has been quick in dealing with radiation-contaminated water at the Fukushima Daiichi plant and plans to announce a roadmap this week for implementing a fundamental solution to the problem beyond traditional stop-gap measures. I praise him for the quickness. At the same time, however, I would like to emphasize that the key role of politicians is to guide public opinions while respecting them.

Japanese technology recognized as excellent in world
       Sophisticated nuclear reactors made by any countries other than Russia depend on Japanese technology. These countries include China. How long Japan could maintain its technological superiority in the world and when Japan could be outdone by any other country will depend on its future policy. The present fact is that the world places great expectations on Japan as a technology leader and expects Prime Minister Abe to steadily meet the expectations.
       I would like to urge the prime minister to offer his firm policy of maintaining nuclear power plants in Japan with safety secured and to send scientific, reasonable messages supporting the policy.
       Start with immediate steps when embarking on a great project. The public administration of nuclear power plants should start with explaining the science-supported policy to Fukushima residents faithfully, instead of making political remarks.

Yoshiko Sakurai is President, Japan Institute for National Fundamentals.