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New environment Minister vows to help Fukushima

September 4, 2014

New environment chief Mochizuki takes on Fukushima radiation woes

Staff Writer

New Environment Minister Yoshio Mochizuki on Thursday stressed the ministry’s commitment to speeding up efforts to reduce Fukushima’s radiation woes and vowed to get the prefecture’s radioactive waste storage facility up and running.

Mochizuki’s appointment comes after Fukushima Mayor Yuhei Sato on Saturday officially agreed to let the government build a storage facility near the crippled Fukushima No. 1 power plant, where contaminated waste will be kept for 30 years until the government can figure out a way to safely dispose of it.

The exact location of the facility hasn’t been decided yet, but it will be somewhere within the boundaries of Okuma and Futaba, the two tainted towns hosting the wrecked plant.

Despite the flimsy details, the government nonetheless hopes to start transporting tainted soil and other waste to the site as soon as next January, but concerns are mounting over the feasibility of the schedule.

“I know the road ahead is rough, but the ministry is determined to follow through on our current plan. We shouldn’t let our uncertainty affect our determination, at least for now,” Mochizuki said.

Meanwhile, Mochizuki said he was eager to achieve the ambitious goal set forth by his predecessor, Nobuteru Ishihara, to make renewable energy account for as much as 30 percent of Japan’s total estimated power output for 2030.

“That’s a goal, and I’d probably have to do a lot of thinking from now on to assess its (feasibility),” he said. “But still, I’m determined to ensure that Japan won’t lag behind global standards and will live up to its reputation as an environment-friendly nation.”

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