Former Prime Minister Kan urges Australia to stop exporting uranium


Former Prime Minister Naoto Kan has urged Australia to help wean the world off uranium instead of increasing its already considerable exports of the radioactive metal, local media reported over the weekend.

Kan, who was prime minister during the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, is on a weeklong visit to Australia.

“I hope that Australia can be exporting not uranium . . . but electricity created through renewable sources,” Kan was quoted Saturday as saying by the Australia Broadcasting Corp.

He lamented that by exporting uranium, Australia, which does not have any nuclear plants itself, has been making it easier for more countries to rely on nuclear power to meet their energy needs.

“All countries including Australia should be making efforts to do what can be done to reduce such dependence on nuclear power,” Kan said, adding that the world is moving away from nuclear power and Australia should not hinder that.

On his website, Kan said he arrived in Darwin, the capital of uranium-rich Northern Territory, on Friday and planned Saturday to visit a mine that supplied some of the fuel for the Fukushima plant.

During the coming week, he said, he will meet with members of the Australian Greens party who encouraged him to go to Darwin and give an address at the Northern Territory’s parliament. He will also inspect a wave-activated power station and visit other renewable energy facilities in the territory.

Local media quoted Kan as saying he is keen to learn firsthand about the situation at the Ranger uranium mine. He said he would meet Saturday with the site’s traditional owners, the Mirarr people, who have long been opposed to the mine, which opened in 1980, about 250 km east of Darwin near Kakadu National Park.

Australia, with more than one-third of the world’s known uranium ore deposits, is the world’s third-largest uranium producer and has supplied the nuclear industries of such countries as Japan, South Korea, China, Britain, France, Germany and the United States.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott is due to soon travel to India to finalize a deal to sell it Australian uranium for the first time.

In the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011, Kan’s Democratic Party of Japan initiated policies to wean the country off nuclear power. But this policy was overturned after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party returned to power in 2012.

  • Starviking

    Wow! Kan wants Oz to export renewable energy? Where to? NZ is too far away, PNG is a poor market, and Indonesia probably won’t pay much either.

    Very foolish. He should do a similar analysis for Japan.

  • Sam Gilman

    Given his self-serving re-telling of events, Kan clearly blames the Fukushima accident for his loss of political power, rather than his own handling of it (great politicians find opportunities in crisis; Kan is clearly not a great politician) He has lost sight of the bigger picture.

    Australia is one of the worst per capita contributors to global warming in the world, and is currently governed by a Prime Minister who effectively denies climate change is happening. It is also under great threat from climate change, given how dry the continent already is and how much drier it may become.

    In this light, Kan’s campaign against our most universally accessible form of low carbon energy is crazy. As for Australia exporting renewable energy, as Starviking points out, what does Kan have in mind? How will it be exported? Has he looked at a map in the last eighty million years?