HAKODATE, HOKKAIDO – The municipal assembly of Hakodate, Hokkaido, approved funds Tuesday to file a lawsuit to stop construction of a nuclear plant in nearby Aomori Prefecture.
The city is considering resorting to legal action if Electric Power Development Co., better known as J-Power, continues construction of the plant in Oma across the Tsugaru Strait from Hakodate.
Hakodate officials believe the safety of the plant can’t be guaranteed and the city could suffer severe damage in the event of a serious accident.
The municipality will ask the new administration to be formed under the leadership of the Liberal Democratic Party, which won a landslide victory in Sunday’s election, early next year to order an indefinite freeze on the plant’s construction and will sue if its demand is not met.
Hakodate set aside ¥23 million in reserve funds under a supplementary budget for the current fiscal year for the potential lawsuit. It would be the first suit related to a nuclear plant filed by a local government.
Although separated by the strait, Hakodate lies within 30 km of the plant. J-Power began building the plant in May 2008 with the intention of bringing it online in November 2014. Construction was suspended after the Fukushima nuclear crisis in March 2011 but was resumed this fall.
When the work restarted, Hakodate Mayor Toshiki Kudo told a news conference that “we hope to pursue legal action, in which the city will become the plaintiff, as early as next spring when the construction work is to move into high gear.”
Pushing nuclear power
The head of the nation’s power industry is demanding that the new government step back from its predecessor’s goal of ridding Japan of nuclear power.
In a statement Monday on the Liberal Democratic Party’s landslide victory in the Lower House election, Makoto Yagi, chairman of the Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan, said he wants the incoming government to work out a “realistic” national energy policy.
Departing Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda set a goal of reducing the nation’s dependence on nuclear power to zero by the 2030s.
There are too many challenges to overcome before achieving the nuclear phaseout goal, Yagi said.