Japan will go nuclear free, PM Noda retorts to critics

Japan will go nuclear free, PM Noda retorts to critics

TOKYO - Agence France-Presse
Japan will go nuclear free, PM Noda retorts to critics

The upper lid of the reactor pressure vessel of a reactor is removed by a tall crane and lifted down to the ground at Fukushima plant, which caused a disaster. AFP photo

Japan will go nuclear free, the prime minister insisted on Sept. 21, rebutting criticism that his government was floundering and unable to come up with a coherent position on the issue.

Yoshihiko Noda’s administration last week declared it was aiming to eliminate atomic power from the country’s energy mix by 2040.

But an announcement the next day by his trade minister that two partially-built reactors could be finished and put to work cast doubt on the government’s determination.

And newspaper reports that the cabinet had not endorsed the plan led to criticism Noda was trying to be all things to all people, hoping to appease a nuclear-skeptic public while keeping energy-hungry businesses onside.

“Don’t get me wrong,” Noda said on Sept. 21. “We did make a cabinet decision” on the nuclear phase-out policy on September 14.

Target: 2030s

“Japan will seek a no-nuclear society in the 2030s and will realize it. “With an unwavering attitude, we will implement various policies based on this principle. This is a huge policy change that we have made with a genuine determination.” Last week cabinet members had declared a three-pronged strategy of tougher safety standards, the shuttering of reactors 40 years old and a ban on the building of new units.

 Policy minister Motohisa Furukawa told a news conference that reports the government was divided on the issue were wide of the mark.

“We will mobilize all possible measures to achieve zero nuclear in the 2030s,” Furukawa said.

“What the government decided was a reversal of policies on nuclear energy promotion that lasted for half a century.” The rearguard action comes after a major newspaper lambasted the government as “incoherent” because of a vague announcement of “aims”, rather than any actual policy.

The government “tried to be friendly with both anti-nuclear bloc and pro-nuclear bloc, and that resulted in revealing it is incoherent,” Japan’s biggest newspaper, the Yomiuri Shimbun said on Sept. 20.

The influential Mainichi Shimbun said the cabinet had done no more than given the nod to a plan to “draft an energy and environment policy based on the strategy (of phasing out nuclear power in 2030s), while continuously verifying and reviewing that policy.” “Ad-hoc policy making and trying to appease everyone has resulted in a vague position” on nuclear policy, the paper said in an editorial.

Japan is among the four bidders for Turkey’s second nuclear plant to be build in the Black Sea province of Sinop.