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Friday, Nov. 11, 2011
Nuclear export policy misguided
In view of the nuclear fiasco at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has declared that he will decrease Japan's reliance on nuclear power as much as possible. Regrettably he appears to be pursuing an illogical path in his policy toward nuclear power.
On Oct. 31, Mr. Noda and his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Tan Dung agreed in Tokyo that Japan will push its cooperation with Vietnam's nuclear power plant construction project. This agreement accords with the one October 2010 between then Prime Minister Naoto Kan and Mr. Dung: that Vietnam will buy two reactors from Japan. The latest agreement between Mr. Noda and Mr. Dung means that the Democratic Party of Japan government will continue its policy of promoting the export of nuclear reactors.
Two days before the meeting between Mr. Noda and Mr. Dung, Foreign Minister Koichiro Genba and his Indian counterpart, Shri S.M. Krishna, agreed in Tokyo that Japan and India will push talks to conclude a bilateral nuclear accord, under which India will acquire Japanese nuclear technology.
The DPJ government is inclined to promote export of nuclear reactors because it treats export of infrastructure as a pillar of its economic growth policy. Apparently behind its policy of pushing export of reactors to India and Vietnam are geopolitical considerations — to help counter moves by China.
The DPJ government is pushing for the reactor export policy at a time when many people are suffering from radiation problems caused by the spewing of radioactive substances at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
On top of that, the nuclear accidents are still going on and there is no prospect that power plants that were shut down due to the March 11 earthquake and tsunami or due to regular inspections will be restarted. Studies to determine what happened at Fukushima No. 1 and the causes of the accidents have not yet produced results. If the Noda administration pushes reactor export in this situation, people will look at its energy policy with suspicion.
Mr. Noda must first work out a clear road map to phase out nuclear power generation as well as concrete programs to accelerate the development of renewable energy sources, such as wind, solar and geothermal power.