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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Activists urge Japan to curb nuclear lobbying

Staff writer

OSAKA — Antinuclear activists on Tuesday urged the government to stop advocating, both unilaterally and within the Group of Eight meetings, the expansion of nuclear power in Asia as a solution to reducing regional greenhouse gas emissions.

"The Japanese government is promoting exports of nuclear power plants to Asia and the rest of the world because construction of new nuclear power plants in Japan is declining," the activists wrote in a letter sent both to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and the Foreign Ministry.

"In the name of responding to global warming, the nuclear industry throughout the world, including in Japan, is pushing strongly for a great expansion of nuclear power," it said.

The letter was signed by more than 30 activists representing antinuclear groups in Taiwan, Thailand, Indonesia, South Korea and Japan.

The letter warned against Japan lobbying in international forums like the G8 to have nuclear energy accepted. Japan will reportedly push the G8 leaders, who meet in Hokkaido next week, to agree to expand the civilian use of nuclear power.

It remains unclear to what extent the other G8 leaders will agree to a final declaration that contains strong support for nuclear power. All statements coming out of the G8 have to be unanimous, and not all members share Japan's desire to turn to nuclear power to deal with the climate crisis.

"Unless their position has changed, the German government is likely to oppose expansion of nuclear power plants," said Phillip White of the Tokyo-based Citizens' Nuclear Information Center.

"Informed G8 leaders should know nuclear power is worse for global warming. The more nuclear power plants, the less we'll be able to reduce greenhouse gases by investing in renewable energy and conservation, both of which reduce (carbon dioxide) emissions faster and more efficiently than nuclear power," said Aileen Mioko Smith of Green Action Japan, a Kyoto-based NGO.

The international nuclear power industry and a growing number of governments say nuclear power is a realistic solution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

But in their letter, the activists cited a recent study by the International Energy Agency suggesting that even if 2.6 nuclear plants producing 1,000 megawatts of power are added globally each year to 2050, greenhouse gas emissions from the energy sector would only be reduced by 6 percent, or less than 4 percent of the total.

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The Japan Times

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