Why Japan sticks to its nukes, totally applicable to India as well !


ANALYSIS: A clear majority of Japanese people (73 percent, according to a recent poll) opposes the country’s use of nuclear power. But politically, that sentiment has not changed anything.

By Chico Harlan

The Washington Post

Two years after the meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, a clear majority of Japanese people (73 percent, according to a recent Yomiuri Shimbun poll) opposes the country’s use of nuclear power.

But, politically, that sentiment has so far proven more negligible than powerful. No Japanese politician yet has capitalized on the anti-nuclear sentiment. And just last December, in the first major election since the Fukushima crisis, Japanese voters returned to power the Liberal Democratic Party, a traditional pro-nuclear group that had largely engineered the nation’s atomic reliance.

There are several reasons why the anti-nuke group punches below its weight, some interrelated. But here’s a list of the top factors:

1. Voters still care most about the economy.

When an economy is foundering, it’s almost always the top election issue — no matter what else is going on. An Asahi poll showed that 48 percent of voters in Japan put the economy as their number one concern for the December 2012 elections, well ahead of issues like energy and security. The LDP won in part because of a relatively fresh plan (of monetary easing and fiscal stimulus) to tackle a two-decade period of deflation.

For the anti-nuke crowd, voter emphasis on the economy is especially challenging, because growth is at odds with a phaseout, according to economic data from four separate institutes used by the government. Those institutes tried to model scenarios where, one, Japan in 2030 relied on nuclear power for 25 percent of its energy and, two, Japan in 2030 was nuclear free. The economy of a nuclear-reliant Japan will be somewhere between 1 to 3.5 percent larger than that of a non-nuclear Japan, the institutes said.

2. The pro-nuclear crowd remains powerful.

The group that supports nuclear power in Japan is significant — and hard for any politician to overlook. It includes energy companies that operate plants; reactor manufacturers such as Toshiba and Mitsubishi; corporations that view nuclear power as an essential cheap source for their domestic factories; banks that hold loans from utility companies; and media outlets that depend on any of the above for advertising.

3. Anti-nuclear factions are fighting among themselves.

Those who oppose nuclear power don’t always consider themselves on the same page. Some want Japan to quit cold turkey. Others prefer a gradual phaseout, where reactors are used as a stopgap until Japan can find alternatives. This difference in opinions has made it hard for politicians to win over the entire crowd at once.

“So it’s difficult for the anti-nuclear group to unite and have a voice,” said Yukio Edano, who served as a cabinet member during the crisis and the energy minister shortly after. This stands in contrast to the pro-nuclear crowd, Edano noted, which has proved politically cohesive.

4. The right politician hasn’t yet come along.

Naoto Kan tried to lead Japan out of the nuclear-power business — but by the time he did, he was already deeply unpopular and had pledged to eventually step down as prime minister.

In the run-up to the 2012 Lower House election, several anti-nuclear parties popped up, but they were either poorly financed, disorganized, or simply ill-conceived. The Tomorrow Party of Japan, for instance, laid out a plan to decommission all reactors (over 10 years) just two weeks before the election. Trying to broaden its support, the party joined hands with a divisive pork-barrel politician, Ichiro Ozawa, who along with his supporters then bolted again after the election. That left the Tomorrow Party with one Diet seat

http://seattletimes.com/html/nationworld/2020569901_japannuclearxml.html?syndication=rss

 

#India- wake up—World’s biggest nuke plant may shut: Japan report


by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) Jan 25, 2013

The largest nuclear power plant in the world may be forced to shut down under tightened rules proposed by Japan’s new nuclear watchdog aimed at safeguarding against earthquakes, a report said Friday.

Fukushima operator Tokyo Electric Power‘s vast Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in central Japan could be on the chopping block if the Nuclear Regulation Authority expands the definition of an active fault.

The movement of a fault — a crack in the earth’s crust — can generate massive earthquakes like the one that sparked a tsunami that slammed into the Fukushima Daiichi plant in March 2011, setting off the worst atomic crisis in a generation.

The watchdog is planning to define an active fault as one that moved any time within the past 400,000 years, rather than the current 120,000 to 130,000-year limit, an official told AFP, which could spell the end of the TEPCO plant.

“The new guidelines will be put into effect in July, and then we will re-evaluate the safety of each of Japan’s nuclear plants,” said the NRA official, adding no decisions would be made until the new rules were in place.

At least two “non-active” faults underneath the site’s reactors could be ensnared by the new definition, forcing its closure, according to a report in the mass-circulation Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper on Friday.

Other Japanese media have carried similar reports.

A company spokesman said TEPCO was conducting more tests on the faults underneath the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant, the world’s biggest by generating capacity.

The NRA is conducting or planning to conduct investigations into six other nuclear plants in Japan.

At present only two of the country’s 50 reactors are operational, after the entire stable was shuttered over several months for scheduled safety checks. Public resistance has meant the government has been reluctant to give the go-ahead for their re-starting.

The two reactors that are working are both being investigated by seismologists.

In 2007, the government ordered the temporary closure of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant after a 6.8-magnitude earthquake destroyed hundreds of homes in the area and jolted the sprawling plant, which was close to the quake’s epicentre, leading to a small radiation leak.

The 9.0-magnitude earthquake that struck off Japan’s northeastern coast in 2011 triggered the tsunami that left about 19,000 dead and set off the emergency at Fukushima.

No one is officially recorded as having died as a direct result of the nuclear catastrophe, but radiation leaks forced tens of thousands of people from their homes and left swathes of agricultural land unfarmabl

 

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