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All decided in advance?

August 4, 2012


Official pushed pronuke stance





A senior government official in charge of nuclear policy planning on Friday admitted pressing the Japan Atomic Energy Commission last year over continuing to generate nuclear power.


Industry minister Yukio Edano, who oversees the country's energy policy, expressed regret over the incident, telling a news conference he doesn't want the public to think the government is scheming to maintain Japan's reliance on atomic energy.

Kyoji Yoshino, a director at the Natural Resources and Energy Agency, on Dec. 27 handed a document to the commission's head, Shunsuke Kondo, stating that "analyzing a scenario for abolishing nuclear power could encourage those concerned (about safety issues) and would not help maintain" atomic energy operations, the industry ministry said.

Kondo has been tasked with reviewing Japan's new energy policy.

Yoshino, head of the agency's nuclear energy policy planning division, received a verbal reprimand from the industry ministry.

Edano claimed Yoshino penned the document only in a private capacity, but added, "While the government has yet to decide whether or not to keep nuclear power, (Yoshino's behavior) could be considered by the public as government maneuvering to maintain the atomic energy."

"I submitted the document as a way to exchange views between administrative bodies, but I inadvertently wrote too much," Yoshino said.

In January, a panel under the commission began discussing Japan's future nuclear fuel cycle in light of the Fukushima disaster.


August 3, 2012

Senior gov't bureaucrat discouraged consideration of zero nuclear power option



A senior official at the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy (ANRE) is under fire for writing that analysis of a possible end to nuclear power would threaten the survival of atomic energy in Japan.

ANRE nuclear power policy chief Kyoji Yoshino wrote to the Atomic Energy Commission in December last year, saying, "Analyzing a scenario in which Japan were to give up nuclear power may help shore up the courage of the cautious factions, but it would not aid the continuation of atomic energy." The comment was an apparent attempt to restrain the commission from considering the elimination of nuclear power.

The government is evaluating three scenarios for Japan's energy future, including one that envisages the complete abandonment of nuclear power in 2030.

Yoshino's comments were disclosed at an Aug. 3 news conference by Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Yukio Edano, who stressed that they were contained in "a memo written by (Yoshino) as an individual," and did not reflect government policy. However, Edano added, "It's unavoidable that some people will see this as proof the government is scheming to continue atomic power generation."

The industry ministry has issued a reprimand to Yoshino over the document.

According to the ministry, Yoshino passed the document to Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Shunsuke Kondo during a visit to the commission in December 2011 to discuss the proceedings of a subcommittee on Japan's nuclear fuel cycle project. The document asked that, before the government decides on the role of nuclear power in Japan's energy plans, the commission restrain discussion and analysis of the future of the nuclear fuel cycle project on the assumption that Japan will completely abandon nuclear energy.

Yoshino has since told a ministry internal inspection that he "deeply regrets" writing the document.

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