Japan’s largest labor organization questions nuclear energy policy

HIROSHIMA, Aug. 4 — (Kyodo) _ Japan’s largest labor organization questioned the country’s energy policy Thursday, including the promotion of nuclear power generation in the wake of the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.


"The basis of what Japan’s energy policy should be, including nuclear power, is being questioned," Hiroyuki Nagumo, secretary general of the Japanese Trade Union Confederation, told an antinuclear gathering in Hiroshima.


"The Japanese people’s trust in nuclear power generation has been lost," Nagumo told around 6,500 participants at the event organized jointly by the confederation, the Japan Congress Against A- and H-Bombs, and the National Council for Peace and Against Nuclear Weapons.


It was the first time that the confederation, known as Rengo, has mentioned the issue of nuclear energy since it began co-organizing in 2005 a series of annual peace events to commemorate the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.


Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui and Hiroshima Gov. Hidehiko Yuzaki attended the gathering on Thursday.


But Nagumo did not elaborate further on the issue of nuclear energy, reflecting tensions within Rengo, which is the biggest supporter of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan and has labor unions representing workers at power utilities and nuclear reactor manufacturers under its wing.


"We have to start discussions concerning nuclear energy from the beginning to decide on what we should do in the future," Nagumo told a press conference earlier Thursday.


The confederation and the antinuclear groups have been united in opposing nuclear weapons and calling for better support measures for atomic-bomb survivors.


But the confederation and the council promoted nuclear power generation before the March 11 earthquake and tsunami crippled the Fukushima complex and led it to release a massive amount of radiation.


Rengo decided in May to freeze its policy of promoting the construction of new nuclear power plants. But the Japanese Electrical, Electronic & Information Union, a member of Rengo, called in July for restarting nuclear power reactors that have been shut down for regular checks.


Koichi Kawano, a Nagasaki atomic-bomb survivor and the head of the congress, said in his address to the event, "With many people questioning the safety of nuclear power plants, how can we go on without talking about the problem of nuclear plants?"


"A nuclear power plant accident and use of a nuclear weapon cause similar damage. Humans and atomic power cannot coexist," he said.

(c) 2011 Kyodo News International, Inc.

Source: www.silobreaker.com, via Silobreaker Feed for: Nuclear Power [Keyphrase]
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