Lower House committee approves nuke export deals with four nations

by Masami Ito

Staff Writer

While the battle goes on to bring the Fukushima No. 1 plant under control, the government moved a step closer Friday to resuming exports of Japan’s nuclear technology as a Lower House committee approved ratification of accords with four countries.

The Democratic Party of Japan and Liberal Democratic Party both voted in favor of the bilateral agreements with Jordan, Vietnam, South Korea and Russia at the Lower House Foreign Affairs Committee.

The full chamber was to vote on the pacts later Friday, but at the request of opposition parties the action was postponed till Tuesday.

Despite the delay, the treaties are expected to be approved by the Lower House and will likely clear the Upper House before the current Diet session closes Dec. 9.

Appearing before the foreign affairs committee, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda stressed the importance for Japan to export nuclear technology.

“I think that above all, it is our duty to share our experience, the lessons, and knowledge of the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant with the world,” Noda said. “I think it is meaningful to provide (nuclear technology) with high-level safety while grasping the situation of the other countries.”

Noda also suggested nuclear plants may be exported to countries other than those four in the future if more seek Japanese technology despite the March 11 accident.

“For countries that say they need Japan’s technology, we will deal with and decide each case individually,” he said.

But as Japan tries to resolve the crisis at the Fukushima plant, national policy has taken a completely different turn and domestic reliance on nuclear energy is coming in for major reductions.

Also, some opposition parties, including New Komeito, the Japanese Communist Party and Social Democratic Party, have argued strongly that it is “premature” for Japan to resume nuclear exports.

“Japan . . . is still in the middle of dealing with the nuclear accident and the country has not reached a final conclusion on the position of its own nuclear power plants,” Masao Akamatsu of New Komeito said during the committee session. “Nothing has been settled and it is still premature.”