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International nuclear compensation pact?

September 22, 2014

Abe preps bill to join nuclear redress-immunity pact


Kyodo, JIJI, Staff Report

DECON, GOING SLOW: PAGE 3 – The administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to submit a bill to the Diet by the end of the year to have Japan join an international pact on compensation in the event of a nuclear disaster, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Monday

Under the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage, known as the CSC, contributions from member states partially cover damages payments in the event of an atomic disaster.

“By ratifying the treaty, (Japan) can support the participation of overseas companies in the decommissioning of — and measures against radiation-tainted water at — the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant,” Suga told a news conference.

Suga’s comment echoed one by science minister Shunichi Yamaguchi, who conveyed Japan’s plan to submit the bill, to U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz in Vienna Sunday.

Moniz praised the move, noting Tokyo’s ratification will help the pact take force, Japanese officials said. The treaty has been ratified by the United States, Argentina, Morocco, Romania and the United Arab Emirates.

Japan’s participation in the CSC is seen as necessary for U.S. companies to take part in the hazardous decontamination and decommissioning work underway at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s crippled atomic plant.

It is also seen as crucial for Japanese manufacturers who are considering marketing nuclear technology overseas, because ratification would make them immune from liability claims resulting from a nuclear disaster.

Last October, Abe’s team said it planned to join the treaty at the request of the U.S., which was promoting it as a way to compensate accident victims and protect the makers of nuclear plants from liability.

Under the convention, liability falls solely on the operators of the plants, which would make it easier for U.S. firms to help out in Fukushima.

The Japan Federation of Bar Associations, however, is opposed to the treaty.

In a statement Aug. 22, the lawyers’ group said the plan is “part of moves to push for the exporting of nuclear plants,” a move that is unacceptable as the promotion of nuclear plants overseas “could inflict irreparable damage to the human rights of people in recipient countries and their neighboring countries, and could lead to environmental problems.

The U.S. energy chief vowed support for restarting two reactors at Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Sendai power plant in Kagoshima Prefecture. Yamaguchi told him the units recently passed the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s new safety tests.

Yamaguchi and Moniz are in Vienna to attend the general meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency, which started Monday in the Austrian capital.

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