Japan too eager to export nuclear tech despite lack answers about safety

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The government’s nuclear power development and plant export policies were put on hold under the administration of then Prime Minister Naoto Kan following the March 11 outbreak of the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. But the current administration of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has made a fresh start in promoting nuclear power and technology exports.

The government had planned to obtain Diet approval on the nuclear cooperation agreements during its ordinary session. However, the plan was shelved due to the policy chaos caused by the nuclear crisis and Kan’s decision to move away from nuclear power development.

At a meeting of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee on Friday, Noda stressed the importance of early Diet approval for the nuclear cooperation accords with the four countries, saying: “It is important for Japan to cooperate with foreign countries by providing technology with high levels of safety. I want to really obtain your understanding [of the government position].”

Ryoichi Hattori, a lower house member of the Social Democratic Party, criticized the government at the lower house Foreign Affairs Committee meeting on Friday, saying, “It’s extremely contradictory to insist on breaking with nuclear power at home and promoting it overseas.”

Despite this clear support for nuclear trade and export, Japan itself is currently developing a completely new energy strategy, having torn up the previous one in reaction to the accident at Fukushima Daiichi.

The Diet of Japan has approved the Viet Nam-Japan agreement for co-operation in the development and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

The approval was also given to three other similar accords that Japan had signed bilaterally with Russia, South Korea and Jordani.

These accords will constitute a legal foundation for Japanese enterprises to export nuclear electricity making equipment and technology to the four countries.

This has opened the way for exports of nuclear power plants to these countries, but the decision came too hasty and has not been thought through.

The Diet has endorsed the accords without in-depth discussions on how to ensure safety of nuclear power stations.

During Diet deliberation on the pacts, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said, “If we receive requests for cooperation despite Japan’s current situation based on lessons learned from the crisis, we should do whatever we can to contribute to international efforts to enhance the safety of atomic energy.”

However, one cannot help but wonder how Japan can prove its nuclear technology can contribute to global safety. Moreover, even if Japan emphasizes that its nuclear technology is safe without clarifying the cause of the crisis, it cannot win confidence from the international community.

The LDP, which has called for nuclear plant exports, is concerned about whether or not the Noda administration is really serious about maintaining a nuclear technology export policy.

The Diet had only 10 days to deliberate on the atomic energy pacts. It failed to carry out thorough discussions on safety measures even though Jordan is an earthquake-prone country and it is reportedly difficult to secure the massive amount of water needed to cool down reactors that are expected to be built in inland areas of the country.

The government is currently negotiating atomic energy agreements with India, South Africa and Turkey. In particular, Japan should exercise prudence in its negotiations with India, which is not a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty even though it possesses nuclear arms.

To prevent Japan from exporting danger and anxiety to the world while decreasing its reliance on nuclear energy, the executive and legislative branches of the government are urged to hold more in-depth discussions on nuclear energy safety based on its verification of the cause of the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

Source: Yomiuri

Source: Yomiuri

Source: WNN

Source: Vietnam News

Source: Mainichi

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