14 Mai 2012
Seven of the eight governors of prefectures located close to the Hamaoka Nuclear Power Plant in central Japan -- whose operations were halted under government orders two months after the massive quake and tsunami hit northeastern Japan last spring -- are wary of restarting the plant, a Mainichi survey has found.
The governors said there remain large obstacles to restarting the plant, including obtaining "the consent of local bodies."
On May 14, 2011, some two months after the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami triggered a nuclear crisis, the national government ordered the halt of operations at the Hamaoka Nuclear Power Plant in the Shizuoka Prefecture city of Omaezaki.
In early May this year, ahead of the one-year anniversary of the plant's halt, the Mainichi surveyed the governors of eight prefectures within 150 kilometers of the plant -- Tokyo, Kanagawa, Yamanashi, Shizuoka, Nagano, Aichi, Gifu and Mie prefectures. The governors were asked about their views on the possibility of reactivating the Hamaoka plant and their assessment of the national government's handling of the issue.
Shizuoka Gov. Heita Kawakatsu said: "We are planning to independently run tests to determine the engineering safety of the plant and the economic rationality of power generation costs, and for the time being, will not approve reactivation of the plant."
Other governors echoed the sentiment, with Kanagawa Gov. Yuji Kurosawa saying, "Unless there is a guarantee of sufficient safety, consent will not be easily given." Mie Gov. Eikei Suzuki said, "There has been too little explanation from the national government about the need (to reactivate the plant) based on the plant's safety and power demand," while Gifu Gov. Hajime Furuta said, "A major prerequisite for consent is a watertight plan, including research on tsunamis' possible effects, and an explanation to the public."
Many governors also criticized the government's handling of the nuclear power issue after operations at the Hamaoka plant were stopped. "Reduction of our dependence on nuclear power is the direction that's been indicated, but we have yet to be presented with a process that will get us there, nor a vision of future energy demand and supply," said Aichi Gov. Hideaki Omura. Nagano Gov. Shuichi Abe likewise argued that "the government should promptly indicate a clearly defined vision." Kawakatsu, meanwhile, said, "The government has not informed us of the process leading up to the plant's reactivation, and has not taken any appropriate action toward the local economy that's been affected by the plant's halted operations."
Despite such concerns, governors are also worried about the risk of power outages, with Yamanashi Gov. Shomei Yokouchi saying, "After talks with local communities, I would like to see nuclear plants that can be restarted to be reactivated as soon as possible."
Meanwhile, unlike the seven other governors, Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara gave a single answer to the two-tiered survey.
"The important thing is to construct a basic national strategy regarding the degree of economic growth we are seeking, and what kind of energy and how much of it we need to secure. If nuclear power does turn out to be necessary, the national government should take the responsibility of operating them appropriately," he said.