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Simple greetings or leading role?

August 25, 2012



Atomic energy commission head Kondo took leading role in secret pro-nuclear meetings



Shunsuke Kondo, chairman of the Cabinet Office's Japan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC), told a secret meeting of pro-nuclear power experts that he would have a say over Japan's level of dependence on nuclear power when a task force set up under the commission drew up a new nuclear power policy, it has been learned.

Kondo's comment, made on Dec. 8 last year, appeared in a record of proceedings of the secret meeting, released by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry's Agency for Natural Resources and Energy on Aug. 24 following a disclosure of information request from the Mainichi Shimbun. It is the first time Kondo's comments on the issue have been made public.

Secret meetings of pro-nuclear power experts were held 23 times between November last year and April this year, and Kondo attended the first four meetings. Though he previously admitted having attended the meetings, he had stated that he had merely given greetings.

The records show that Kondo issued instructions pertaining to the agenda of the commission's Shin Taiko Sakutei Kaigi (conference to work out a new outline) and a meeting of experts discussing Japan's nuclear fuel cycle program -- indicating that he played a leading role in the secret gatherings.

The Agency for Natural Resources and Energy released a total of 58 pages of records covering seven meetings. In the records pertaining to a Dec. 8 meeting, Kondo was quoted as saying that even if discussions on the formulation of a new nuclear power policy weren't going smoothly, he would "take control of the issue" if it came down to it. He reportedly added that if discussion on nuclear policy remained unsettled and there was wavering over whether or not Japan should adopt a zero-nuclear power policy, then he would "control the final way the issue was presented."

At the time, the commission was planning to create a "new outline" for overall nuclear power policy based on discussions at the Shin Taiko Sakutei Kaigi. "The final way the issue was presented" referred to the new outline. Kondo thus indicated that he would ensure that the commission would decide that Japan would retain nuclear power.

In the records for the Dec. 8 meeting, Kondo was quoted as saying, "I've compiled papers on the points at issue, so how about discussing the formulation of a new outline based on these?" He was also quoted as calling for discussion on the Monju experimental fast-breeder reactor in Fukui Prefecture at a following subcommittee meeting.

The secret meetings -- attended by members of the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, as well as members of the electric power industry -- were exposed in a report by the Mainichi Shimbun on May 24. The findings caused an uproar among Sakutei Kaigi members and since May 29 the task force has not convened a meeting.

The Japan Atomic Energy Commission plans to replace members of the task force and resume meetings, but the selection of new members has progressed slowly, and the new outline for nuclear power in Japan is at a standstill.

Commenting on his statements in the records, Kondo said, "For me, this is part of the world of greetings. I merely spoke of my resolve as chairman." Referring to the new outline, he said, "In the end I'll take the responsibility.



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