6 of 8 panelists who voted to phase out atomic power by 2030s axed

Abe purges energy board of antinuclear experts


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government has removed most of the antinuclear researchers appointed to a post-Fukushima energy policy board that was advising the state, it was learned Friday.

After his Liberal Democratic Party won a landslide victory in December’s Lower House election, Abe said the ousted Democratic Party of Japan administration’s policy of abandoning atomic power had to be reconsidered by his own team to help revive the economy.

Six of the eight members who voted for phasing out nuclear power while advising the DPJ have been dropped from the panel. Another 10 were reappointed, including Akio Mimura, an adviser to Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp.

Mimura, now chairman of the panel, which resumed discussions Friday, once headed an energy advisory board under a previous LDP government that promoted nuclear power.

“Mimura may have a wonderful personality and good policy ideas, but it’s wrong to let the same man who led discussions on pre-Fukushima energy policy be in charge,” said Tetsunari Iida, executive director of the Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies and one of the members dropped from the advisory board.

In September, the DPJ-led administration endorsed the elimination of nuclear power by the 2030s in response to the March 2011 quake-tsunami that caused three reactor meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 plant. Around 160,000 people were evacuated because of radioactive fallout.

Three options were considered for the country’s future nuclear energy supply: zero, 15 percent, and 20 to 25 percent of the total electricity generated annually. A government poll last August found 47 percent of citizens favored the zero atomic power option, with the remainder split on the other two alternatives.

“The LDP wants to avoid the zero nuclear scenario at all costs and is looking for a point of compromise between 15 and 20 percent atomic energy,” said Hiroshi Takahashi, a research fellow at Fujitsu Research Institute who was also dropped from the advisory panel. “Nobody, not even power companies, would try to revive the pre-Fukushima plan for boosting nuclear power’s share of electricity to 50 percent.”

The government has added five new people, including Issei Nishikawa, governor of Fukui Prefecture, which has 14 reactors. Hajimu Yamana, a nuclear engineering professor at Kyoto University, was also appointed. Overall, the number of advisory board members was cut to 15 from 25.

The people selected have different views on not only nuclear power, but also renewable energy and electricity industry reform, Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said March 1. “We took into account specialities in their fields, not whether they agree or disagree on individual issues,” he said.

Mimura, former vice chairman of Keidanren, Japan’s biggest business lobby, made his view known at a Sept. 18 meeting of the post-Fukushima policy group, stating that the nation should continue using nuclear power.

The group didn’t meet again for almost two months. The delay “made me furious,” said Hideyuki Ban, codirector of the Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center and yet another member dropped from the board. “I demanded that (METI) ministry officials dismiss Mimura.”

  • Jeff Kingston

    The nuclear village is roaring back and downplaying or ignoring the risks. We taxpayers now own Tepco and all its liabilities..already $100 bn and this is only downpayment as decommissioning will last 4 decades. The 150,000 people displaced by the 3 nuclear meltdowns know the folly of nuclear energy. It is a very expensive source of energy and The Economist declared it commercially unviable. So where does Abe plan to put all the radioactive waste?

  • http://www.sheldonthinks.com/ andrew Sheldon

    What does it say about government advice that one can so readily stack such panels with people who agree with your policy platforms. It strikes one that academic ‘schools of thought’ exist solely to give credence to political rhetoric. I support nuclear under prudent regulation; but am dismayed when govts are able to pick their advisors. One is reminded of the British love of John Maynard Keynes. He was not even a supporter of ‘big govt’ but politicians used him as a foundation for it.These political middlemen are users and extortionists. They cannot be trusted.

  • sourgrapes22

    Oh Japan. So foolish. Clearly nuclear has been mostly unnecessary as the country has been functioning fine without it. It may be possible to justify restarting a few reactors but very strict regulations must be put in place, with a real, effective watchdog to oversee, and of course not in seismically active zones (which is most of the country). Sure glad I no longer live there though. The biggest hurdles are in the culture of business however, and I can’t see that ever changing.

  • c brown

    Shame, shame, shame!

  • http://mises.org/Community/blogs/tokyotom/default.aspx TokyoTom

    Japanese must demand #NuclearVilllage execs/kanryo live in real #NuclearVillages ATOP ALL #GENPATSU PLANTS 原発村実現

  • Kenichi Kino

    All power options should be considered and the best one to meet Japan’ energy needs should be chosen. All issues cost, safety, reliability and quality should be analyzed and a determination should be made which combination or energy sources are best and in what location.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kit-Holz/100003349137699 Kit Holz

    We already know that radioactivity coming from Japanese nuclear power plants does not do any harm – it is only if it happens in places like Chernobyl.

    Stop fooling around Japan, do your job and stop poisoning the Pacific!

  • Guest

    It makes little sense to kill the taxpayers with radiation and industrial poisons. The Businesses are NOT going to pay for Government, even if that government gives them favours.