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Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012
Noda unswayed by talks with rally leaders
Prime minister defends reactor restarts in 30-minute exchange
By MASAMI ITO
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda should listen to the voices of the people and abolish all atomic reactors as soon as possible, organizers of the weekly antinuclear rallies told the nation's leader in a face-to-face meeting Wednesday.
Noda met with the representatives at his office for about 30 minutes. As expected, the two sides failed to see eye to eye over the contentious issue.
The prime minister explained that he made the decision to restart two reactors at the Oi plant in Fukui Prefecture after considering all factors.
The government "is aiming to change Japan's reliance on nuclear power in the mid- to long term . . . but we came to the decision to reactivate reactors 3 and 4 at the Oi plant after comprehensively considering various angles, including safety and the impact on people's lives," Noda said during the meeting, which was open to journalists.
"This is the decision that we came to, but there is no limit to securing safety. . . . We will continue to make ceaseless efforts to improve safety measures."
The rally organizers were not satisfied.
Nuclear power "is not safe now and the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant is still ongoing," said the representative of the Metropolitan Coalition Against Nukes. "How can a government that can't maintain safety right now be able to provide nuclear safety in the future? We the people do not believe you."
The government has been seeking public opinion on the ideal energy mix in 2030.
The Noda administration is aiming to lay out the nation's new energy policy soon, and the focus is on the degree to which public opinion will be factored in.
"The government will ultimately take responsibility over the direction (of the energy policy) and what sort of energy structure will secure public safety, but I will take your opinions as a reference point and come to a decision after hearing various views," Noda said.
Members of the Metropolitan Coalition Against Nukes and thousands of other participants have been gathering outside the prime minister's office every Friday to protest the government's decision to reactivate the two Oi reactors.
Participants at Wednesday's meeting urged Noda to listen to the people's voices that are trying to reach out to him every Friday.
"Our voices are not just a 'loud noise.' Please reflect the people's earnest pleas in national policy," the representative of the group pressed. "And if the government continues to ignore the people's voices and proceeds with the reactivation of reactors, including at the Oi plant, we will continue to firmly protest."