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It's not up to politicians to judge nuke safety

April 24, 2012


Osaka Mayor conveys gov't opposition to early restart of reactors



TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto who leads an up-and-coming political group conveyed his opposition to the early restart of idled nuclear reactors in a meeting with Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura Tuesday in Tokyo.

Osaka Gov. Ichiro Matsui who serves as secretary general of the political group, called Osaka Ishin no Kai (Osaka restoration group), also attended the meeting, where he and Hashimoto made eight proposals directly to Fujimura concerning the central government's nuclear policy.

"It is absolutely wrong for politicians to play a leading role in judging the safety of nuclear reactors," Hashimoto said during the meeting with Fujimura at the prime minister's office.

The meeting came after Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, Fujimura, and two other ministers earlier this month confirmed that the two offline reactors at Kansai Electric Power Co.'s Oi nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture are safe to restart and that it is necessary to do so to ensure stable power supplies this summer. The ministers have started seeking cooperation for the restart from local authorities near the plant.

Among the eight proposals, Hashimoto and Matsui called on the central government to establish the structure needed to implement the final disposal of nuclear spent fuel. They also urged the government to create a system to enable the conclusion of a safety treaty between power plant operators and municipalities located within 100 kilometers of nuclear power plants.

After their meeting, Hashimoto criticized the government's procedures for reactivating the two Oi reactors, telling reporters that instead of politicians, the Nuclear Safety Commission should issue its opinion on the safety of the reactors.

Hashimoto's political group has been critical of the government and said it is even ready to confront the ruling Democratic Party of Japan in the next House of Representatives election.

The Osaka city government, the largest stakeholder of Kansai Electric, plans to propose the abolishment of all nuclear reactors as soon as possible at the utility's shareholders meeting in June.

Since the Fukushima nuclear crisis triggered by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, no Japanese reactors have resumed operation after being shut down for mandatory periodic checks, and the Oi reactors are front-runners in the process of resuming operations among dozens of reactors idled for routine checks.

The two reactors have won the endorsement of the results of first-stage stress tests on them by the government's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency and the Nuclear Safety Commission.




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