New Yamaguchi governor to freeze plan to build nuclear plant

Kyodo

Yamaguchi’s new governor said Wednesday he will freeze the planned construction of a nuclear plant in the prefecture now that the central government is rethinking its atomic energy goals in light of the triple-meltdown crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant.

The planned Kaminoseki nuclear plant will remain on hold unless the state signals its new energy policy will continue the use of atomic power, Gov. Shigetaro Yamamoto told a press conference shortly after assuming his post Wednesday.

The central government, prompted by the Fukushima nuclear plant crisis that started after the March 11, 2011, megaquake and tsunami, has been working on a new energy mix with three options regarding the nation’s continued use, or nonuse, of atomic power.

Yamamoto said he will carry on the view of his predecessor, Sekinari Nii, who decided not to extend the license granted to Chugoku Electric Power Co. for the reclamation of land for the Kaminoseki nuclear plant site. The license expires in October and the utility would need to obtain a new one afterward to pursue it goal to build the facility.

On the U.S. MV-22 Osprey transport aircraft that were offloaded at U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in the prefecture, Yamamoto said he will wait for the central government to declare the tilt-rotor planes safe before deciding whether to allow them to be test-flown before their planned deployment to Okinawa.

“I will make the decision after the central government gives us a full explanation (addressing public concerns) after it receives reports about accidents (involving the planes) from the United States and verifies the results,” the governor said.

Yamamoto earlier said he was opposed to allowing the Iwakuni base to be used for test flights, given public concerns over the MV-22′s safety.

The aircraft arrived in July and are to be given test flights before their deployment to U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa.

But Japan and the United States have agreed not to hold test flights until the planes’ safety is confirmed following investigations into a crash in Morocco and another crash involving an Osprey in Florida.