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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Forum still pushes nuclear power with strict safety proviso added


Staff writer

The nonprofit think tank Japan Forum on International Relations Inc. has issued a policy proposal calling for the restart of nuclear reactors after making every effort to improve their safety.

"Those nuclear power stations now . . . shut down should resume operations as soon as possible, after their safety has been verified, their facilities structurally reinforced, and their operational management improved in line with the lessons learned from the accident at the Fukushima (No. 1) nuclear power station," says a JFIR proposal released Monday.

The proposal was endorsed by some 70 academics and business leaders and submitted to Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda last week.

"(Industry chiefs) had repeatedly said the nuclear reactors were safe. But they are actually very dangerous," Haruo Shimada, president of Chiba University of Commerce, told reporters in explaining the need for strict safety inspections of reactors.

Shimada is one of the academics who contributed to the proposal and signed the recommendations.

The forum said that even though more use of renewable energy would improve energy self-sufficiency and provide alternative sources of power, renewables can't immediately replace nuclear power.

"We cannot share the optimistic view of some that the introduction of renewable energy would serve as a quick remedy or substitute for nuclear power and instantly enable denuclearization," it said.

But at the same time, too much dependence on thermal power plants will lead to a rise in electricity prices, the forum said.

In its policy recommendations, the forum also said the country should actively contribute to peace and safety in the Middle East to ensure a stable supply of energy, as well as build cooperation with other East Asian nations, including South Korea, to enable Japan to purchase electricity from those countries.

The country should also promote globalization of the shale gas market, which started in the United States, it said.



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