26 January 2014, 16:13

More than half of Japanese oppose NPP restarts - poll

The majority of Japanese oppose the restart of nuclear reactors in Japan. More than 60 percent of people (60.2%) polled by Kyodo News reject nuclear power. The same poll shows that the Shinzo Abe-led government has slightly improved its rating to 55.9 percent.

Anti-nuclear sentiments and calls for a complete end to nuclear power are still strong in Japan. The country’s thermoelectric plants are operating at maximum capacity. Japan has been forced to import more oil and gas to meet its energy needs.

After the 2011 tragedy at the Fukushima Daiichi NPP, all nuclear reactors throughout the country were shut down. But Premier Shinzo Abe insists that Japan needs nuclear power to be able to boost economic growth. Two reactors at Oi NPP in the Fukui prefecture have been put back into operation.

Fukushima Daiichi was damaged by a 9.0-magnitude earthquake that hit northeast Japan on March 11, 2011. A subsequent 14-meter tsunami flooded four of the plant’s six reactors and crippled their cooling systems, causing partial meltdowns and a series of hydrogen explosions. Each of the reactors had 25,000-35,000 fuel rods when earthquake struck.

The Fukushima disaster became the world’s worst nuclear catastrophe since Chernobyl.

Fukushima Secrecy Syndrome: 5 years for meltdown aftermath disclosure

Last month, the ruling Japanese coalition parties quickly rammed through Parliament a state secrets law, under which the government alone decides what is and is not a state secret and any civil servant who divulges those newly defined "secrets" could be jailed for up to 10 years. If journalists get caught up in this web of this vaguely defined law, they might face up to 5 years in Jail.

Government officials have been upset by the constant disclosures of laxity among regulatory officials both before and after the Fukushima nuclear power disaster in 2011.

Week after week, press reports have continued to reveal the seriousness of the contaminated water flow, the inaccessible radioactive material deep inside the reactors and the need to stop the radioactive leaks from further poisoning land, food and ocean. Officials now estimate that it could take up to 40 years to clean up and decommission the reactors.

Another factor feeding this sure sign of a democratic setback is that militarism is raising its democracy-menacing head, prompted by friction with China over the South China Sea. Dismayingly, various US militarists are pushing for a larger Japanese military budget. China is the latest national security justification for the US "pivot to East Asia" provoked in part by the US own military-industrial complex.

Draconian secrecy in government and fast-tracking bills through legislative bodies are bad omens for freedom of the Japanese press and freedom to dissent for Japanese people.

The New York Times continues to cover the deteriorating conditions in the desolate, evacuated Fukushima area, and with good reason. The US has licensed many reactors of the same design for use at home, and many of those are of the same inadequate safety and inspection standards. Some are near earthquake fault lines with surrounding populations unable to be safely evacuated in the event of serious damage to the electric plant. A case in point is two such reactors, 30 miles north of New York City.

The less Americans know about the past and present conditions of Fukushima, the less they will learn about the atomic reactors in their own country.

Fortunately many of Japan's most famous scientists, including Nobel laureates, Toshihide Maskawa and Hideki Shirakawa, have led the opposition against this new state secrecy legislation with 3,000 academics signing a public letter of protest. The letter claims the secrecy law is a threat to the "fundamental human rights established by the constitution", so the law "should therefore be rejected at once".

Polls show the public also opposes this attack on democracy but the present ruling parties remain adamant, citing "national security and fighting terrorism" as reasons for state secrecy.

History is always present in the minds of many Japanese people, who remember that the militarization of Japanese society resulted in the invasion of China, Korea and Southeast Asia before and after Pearl Harbour. But by 1945, Japan was in ruins, ending with Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The American people have to be alert to their government's needless military and political provocations of China. Washington would do much better by focusing on US trade policies that have facilitated US companies shipping American jobs and whole industries to China.

Also, the Obama administration must become more alert to authoritarian trends in Japan that its policies have been either encouraging or knowingly ignoring – often behind the curtains of the US own chronic secrecy.

Read also:


- Japan scientists use cosmic particles to see nuclear fuel inside Fukushima reactors

Dentists to look for strontium-90 in Fukushima kids' teeth

Fukushima fallout in US: fishermen detect Celsium-137 in salmon stock

Fukushima radiation reaches Pacific Coast: US gov't does nothing to monitor air, food and water – California residents

Voice of Russia, Counterpunch.orga, TASS



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