4 Juillet 2014
July 4, 2014
Court hears first arguments in Oma nuclear plant lawsuit
By KOZUE ISOZAKI/ Staff Writer
Hakodate city government's lawsuit to halt construction of a nuclear power plant across the Tsugaru Strait got under way as the town's mayor asserted that an accident there would bring catastrophe to neighboring municipalities.
The opening arguments were heard July 3 at the Tokyo District Court.
Both the central government and the Electric Power Development Co. (J-Power), which is the operator of the nuclear power plant in Oma, Aomori Prefecture, on the main island of Honshu, are being sued by the government of Hakodate in Hokkaido.
Until now, no municipality in Japan has ever taken legal action to stop a nuclear power plant from being built.
Construction of the Oma plant started in May 2008, but was suspended after the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami. The natural disaster ultimately led to the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant. Construction resumed October 2012.
Hakodate mayor Toshiki Kudo had advocated against the construction of the plant since being elected a month after the Fukushima crisis unfolded.
Speaking to the court, Kudo explained how he had continuously requested that the government and J-Power suspend construction of the Oma plant.
"If a severe accident occurs, the municipalities in the area will collapse," he said. He argued that Hakodate and other municipalities in a 30-kilometer radius of the plant should be given the right to consent to the construction.
He also insisted that a nuclear power plant should not be built in an area where an effective evacuation plan cannot be established.
However, the central government, representatives of which were also present at the court, argued that Hakodate is not qualified to request the suspension of construction, referring to past precedents on building nuclear power plants and laws on regulating them.
Meanwhile, J-Power submitted a report contending that the proposed risks regarding the facility are indeterminable because the power plant is still under construction. Therefore, it said, the litigation has no legal merit.