Under the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage, known as the CSC, contributions from member states cover part of damages payments in the event of an atomic disaster.
“By ratifying the treaty, (Japan) can support the participation of overseas companies in the decommissioning of — and measures against radiation-tainted water at — the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant,” Suga told a news conference.
Suga’s comment follows one by science minister Shunichi Yamaguchi, who conveyed Japan’s intention to submit the bill to U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz on Sunday in Vienna.
Moniz welcomed the move, noting that Tokyo’s ratification will help the pact come into force, Japanese officials said. The treaty has so far been ratified by the United States, Argentina, Morocco, Romania and the United Arab Emirates.
Japan’s participation in the CSC is seen as necessary for U.S. companies to take part in decontaminating and decommissioning Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s crippled Fukushima No. 1.
It is also seen as crucial for Japanese manufacturers considering marketing nuclear technology overseas, as ratification of the treaty would make such firms immune from liability claims in the event of a nuclear disaster.
Last October, the administration expressed its intention to join the treaty at the request of the U.S., which was promoting it as a means to compensate victims of accidents — and to protect nuclear plant makers from liability. Under the convention, liability falls solely on atomic plant operators, which would make it easier for U.S. firms to help out in Fukushima.
The Japan Federation of Bar Associations, however, is opposed to the country’s participation in the treaty.
In a statement released Aug. 22, the lawyers’ group said the government plan is “part of moves to push for exporting of nuclear plants,” a move that is unacceptable as the promotion of nuclear plants overseas “could inflict irreparable damage to the human rights of people in recipient countries and their neighboring countries, and could lead to environmental problems.”
The U.S. energy chief vowed support for bringing back online two reactors at Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Sendai power plant in Kagoshima Prefecture. Yamaguchi told him the reactors have passed the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s beefed-up safety screenings necessary for their restart.
Yamaguchi and Moniz are in Vienna to attend the general meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency that started Monday in the Austrian capital.
Source: Japan Times