29 Mars 2013
March 29, 2013
Kansai Electric Power Co. (KEPCO) pays over 20 million yen a year to support the activities of an Osaka city NPO that appears to spread nuclear power propaganda, it has been learned.
The NPO is called "Josei Shokuno Shudan WARP-LEENET," and was founded in July 1993, mostly by housewives who participated as public monitors in a KEPCO PR event. It achieved corporate status in July 2001.
Every year, the NPO holds educational lectures for groups of around 100 people, and it advertised them in newspapers and on an informational website set up by KEPCO geared mainly for housewives until the site was shut down in February.
The newspaper ads tout the lectures as being about energy resources, including bus tours and cooking classes using electric cookers. The ads mention nothing about nuclear plants, but according to the blog of someone who participated, they toured nuclear plant facilities in Fukui Prefecture, and were also served luxury Japanese cuisine on the tour.
For people who finish taking the lectures, the NPO offers a chance to join more in-depth study groups on nuclear power, radiation and other such themes. According to the NPO's representative, Chiiko Inoue, KEPCO covers over 20 million yen of its annual expenses of around 45 million yen.
"Receiving requests to handle certain duties and receiving money for those duties as we do is no different than what an advertising agency does. The lectures are not only about nuclear power, and we do not show favor to nuclear power, either," Inoue says. However, the NPO's website heavily featured nuclear power-related events, and soon after a Mainichi reporter pointed that out in January this year, the site was taken down.
Inoue was also a member of a committee that worked on a nuclear power policy outline passed by a Cabinet decision in October 2005. In August the same year at a public hearing on the outline in Fukui, a few dozen senior members of the NPO attended, and one spoke out and called for more pro-nuclear power advertising.
A representative of KEPCO's PR office said the company agrees with and supports the NPO's educational activities, saying, "We are providing a proper amount of funds in accordance with our support." However, the representative also said that as the company is in the middle of streamlining its finances, it could reconsider the funding.
Inoue complained, "The funding might be cut, and if that happens, we won't be able to hold the lectures."