Yokohama antinuclear conference draws thousands of activists, experts

by Kazuaki Nagata

Staff Writer

A two-day antinuclear conference kicked off Saturday in Yokohama with the aim of sharing lessons from the Fukushima crisis and fostering global momentum against atomic power.

“Nuclear power plants are all over the world. In order to deal with this issue, we must create a global network,” said Tatsuya Yoshioka, director of the nongovernmental organization Peace Boat, during the opening ceremony for the Global Conference for a Nuclear Power-Free World.

The conference drew thousands of participants to the Pacifico Yokohama convention center, including about 100 experts and activists from 30 countries and nearly 200 domestic groups.

Holding an event of this scale in Japan just 10 months after the Fukushima No. 1 plant meltdowns represents a significant meaning for the antinuclear movement, said Yoshioka, chairman of the event.

Germany’s Rebecca Harms, a member of the European Parliament, said the Fukushima crisis had a strong impact on Europe, pointing to Germany’s decision to close eight old reactors almost immediately after the crisis was triggered by the March 11 disasters.

She said Japan is now managing its electricity supply with much less dependence on nuclear power since only five of its 54 reactors are in operation.

She also said public opinion in Japan had changed and most oppose using atomic power in the future, bringing Japan’s opinion in line with Germany’s.

Japan does not need to go back to nuclear power, she said.

“Please, people of Japan, learn from the German experience.”

NISA to OK Oi’s reports

Kyodo

The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency is set to approve reports submitted by Kansai Electric on stress tests carried out on two idled reactors at the Oi power plant in Fukui Prefecture, government sources said Saturday.

This will be the first time NISA will issue an assessment on reactor stress tests reports. The government introduced the stress tests in light of the Fukushima nuclear disaster and made them a precondition for restarting idled reactors.

But even if NISA endorses the reports, it remains uncertain if the plant’s idled reactors will be restarted immediately as other hurdles remain, including checks by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the sources said.

Kansai Electric Power Co. submitted stress tests reports for the Oi plant’s No. 3 and 4 reactors last year. The reports said nuclear fuel in the reactors’ cores would remain undamaged even in the event of an earthquake 1.8 times stronger than the maximum anticipated temblor in the area.

The reports also estimated that the cores could withstand an 11.4-meter tsunami — four times higher than the largest waves projected.