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Sunday, 23 June 2013

It’s time Japan's government and nuclear industry faced its responsibilities at Fukushima

Have you ever tried to dodge your responsibility for something? Maybe in a small way, many of us do.

But I doubt you dodge responsibility the way the nuclear industry does or the way Japanese Prime Minister Abe does.

In Tokyo yesterday, Greenpeace Japan held a news conference to talk about PM Abe and the blinkers he wears about nuclear power. The room was packed. More than 100 attended, including 27 journalists from TV, a newspaper, a wire service and online news, and four members of the Diet. They were interested in what we had to say about PM Abe’s sales tour in recent months, shaking hands over empty nuclear promises. Turkey, India, Poland and United Arab Emirates have all been his targets.

The crowd at the news conference heard about the problems with nuclear plans in Turkey from campaigner Aslihan Tumer and about the situation in India from campaigner Karuna Raina. The two answered questions for more than five hours. From Aslihan they learned about the anti-nuclear movement in Turkey. She also talked about the death of the so-called nuclear renaissance since the Fukushima disaster and the emergence of renewable energy. For example, in 2012 enough new renewables were built to produce the equivalent energy of 20 nuclear plants. Without the risks. India too has a strong anti-nuclear movement. Karuna noted the massive protests in her country against nuclear power and the fight to prevent any dilution of a law that right now includes reactor suppliers and others in liability. Renewables are taking off in India. They now produce 72% more electricity than nuclear.

You wonder why PM Abe is out selling Japan’s nuclear technology when so many people don’t want it and when he has so much work to do to deal with nuclear problems at home. More than two years after the Fukushima disaster began the costs are enormous, at least $110 billion and possibly up to $250 bn. Yet, General Electric (designer and supplier of reactors 1 and 2 at Fukushima), Toshiba (supplier of reactor 3) and Hitachi (supplier of reactor 4) have walked away without paying a cent towards the compensation for the many thousands of victims or the enormous cost of decontaminating the radioactivity spewed from their reactors.

Abe could spend his time more usefully trying to get some money out of GE, Toshiba and Hitachi, since they aren’t putting their hands in their deep pockets to help pay the bills . So who is? The Japanese people are. Or, rather, they’re having their pockets picked to pay for a disaster that was none of their making.
Why aren’t the Japanese government and Fukushima’s operator TEPCO looking at whether or not GE, Toshiba and Hitachi can be forced to help out? We think they should be.

Don’t think for a moment this is a problem unique to Japan. All over the world, taxpayers are on the hook to pay the massive costs of building, maintaining and decommissioning of nuclear reactors.
Abe and the nuclear companies he’s been out promoting have responsibilities at home. It’s way past time they face up to them.

If you would like to see General Electric, Toshiba and Hitachi made to face their responsibilities, please sign our petition.


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