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?

    • Grow up Jeff. Disasters are a natural feature of humanity. You cannot design or legislate against them. You can do your best to protect yourself, but here we seem ready to cripple the economy to say no to nuclear – Japan has idled massive investment and imported $248 billion dollars worth (correct me if I am out here) of fossil fuels. The sensible way forward for the ecomony is to restart the reactors. This is not rocket science. Abe-san I think is taking the right way forwards here.

      It is not an expensive form of energy compared to others. What is expensive is idling the plants and providing their staff with some form of income while alternative methods of energy production are used. That to me does not make any sense.

      • R U in denial ? Julian are you working for the GOV of Japan..or a diplomat? Have you actually volunteered in Fukushima ? Have you entered the No go Zone inside 20 km of Tepco? Have you seen the suffering and dying animals ? The need for restarting the Reactors to feed the thirst for cheap viable energy for industry is a no brainer. But the present situation is an example of what can go wrong..and the poor sap making 900 yen per hour has to pay for ur position that Japan has to restart the reactors..for what? So that your English students can afford more lessons ? Or perhaps you have some financial ties and affiliation to the energy company TEPCO? Seriously are you in denial. Talk is cheap… 8 months in the zone buddy then i will respect ur spew.

      • Guest

        And, my English students?

        Sorry mate. Middle level management in a telco.

    • Nuclear power is an expensive option but then the greatest cost burden of nuclear is upfront; so given that these plants already exist, it is beneficial that they keep operating if they are not in high risk fault or tsunami zones. If greenies are going to decide the energy mix, and preclude coal, then there are fewer options. Gas looks very promising given the efforts to boost subsea methane hydrates, but this is new technology.

  • 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.

    • Functioning fine without it eh?

      Seen the balance of trade figures recently? Have a look. Read the small print and see how much of the deficit is caused by fossil fuel imports.

      No, we are not functioning fine without it. Not at all.

  • c brown

    Shame, shame, shame!

  • 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.

  • 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.