An affiliate of the Natural Resources and Energy Agency provided local governments in 15 prefectures hosting nuclear plants with lists of individuals who refused to accept government benefits linked to the plants, sources said Thursday.
The Center for Development of Power Supply Regions originally received the lists from utilities, including Chugoku Electric Power Co. and Tokyo Electric Power Co., the sources said.
Some of the lists even contain information on why the people concerned refused the benefits, including their opposition to nuclear power.
In this way, private information, including that pertaining people’s personal beliefs, was passed on to government authorities without the individual’s knowledge.
The benefits are national government subsidies paid to municipalities and prefectures that host nuclear plants in an effort to encourage local communities and companies to accept the facilities. The funds are used to offset discounted utility fees charged to households and companies.
The center is commissioned by the local governments to distribute the benefits to the residents and companies via the utilities.
The fiscal 2001 list compiled by Chugoku Electric Power identifies 10 cases in which people refused the discounted fees. The sources quoted one entry as saying, “(The person) does not seem to be refusing the benefits because of political beliefs concerning nuclear power generation.”
The center received the list from Chugoku Electric and passed it on to the Shimane Prefectural Government at the latter’s request, the sources claimed, adding that the center is obliged to inform local governments about the amount of utility discounts handed out to local residents and firms. However, Shimane Prefecture had urged the center to explain why some people refused the benefits, the sources said.
The fiscal 2000 list compiled by Tokyo Electric Power on Ibaraki Prefecture identifies two people who declined the discounts. The list passed on to the prefecture contains a handwritten memo saying the two refused the benefits because of a fatal accident at a uranium processing plant in the prefecture in 1999.
Similar information was also passed on to Niigata and Fukushima prefectures, while Miyagi Prefecture received from Tohoku Electric Power Co. a list of reasons given by a client for refusing to accept the discounts, the sources said.
An official at the center said the body is obliged to submit the lists to the prefectures, adding that it believed the information will never be leaked outside the bureaucracy.
Meanwhile, Hideki Osada, president of Kansai Electric Power Co., denied Thursday that the utility provides the center with lists of this kind.
“We submit necessary documents (to the center) to ensure its smooth operation, but we do not provide it with information concerning specific individuals,” Osada told the day’s annual shareholders’ meeting.
An Ibaraki official said the prefecture needs to know how many people rejected the discounts and the amounts involved because the benefits are distributed in the form of subsidies from the prefecture. “But we do not need to know their beliefs or political inclinations,” he said.
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