Japanese officials push for complete rewrite of national nuclear safety standards

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Osaka prefecture governor Ichiro Matsui and Osaka city mayor Toru Hashimoto have jointly submitted an 8-point proposal to the central government listing conditions that should be met before the first reactors are restarted following the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

In the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Japanese officials from Osaka have said that a system should be put in place so that power companies form safety agreements with prefectural governments that are located within 100 kilometers of nuclear plants.

Hashimoto and Matsui also called on the central government to establish the structure needed for the final disposal of spent nuclear fuel.

The Osaka Municipal Government, the largest stakeholder of Kepco, plans to propose the abolishment of all reactors as soon as possible at the utility’s shareholders’ meeting in June.

Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto lashed out at the government and politicians for declaring the Ohi plant safe without first getting a go-ahead from its own nuclear regulators, who have reportedly been given more responsibility for reactor safety by legislation spurred by last year’s disaster.

Hashimoto said the safety standards should be completely rewritten and full safety tests carried out based on the new standards.  “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 governors also emphasized that it’s unacceptable that the process is going ahead under procedures that were in place before the Fukushima accident.

Public skepticism in Japan over national nuclear safety remains high, as does the mistrust of a government and nuclear regulatory industry that downplayed the severity of the Fukushima catastrophe in its early days.

Hashimoto told Japan’s NHK network Monday that Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda would provoke a government crisis if he forged ahead with the Ohi restart in spite of the strong fear still driving popular resistance to returning to nuclear power reliance.

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