Former Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan, on a four-day visit in Taiwan, urged the island’s government to completely say no to nuclear power even as the Taiwanese legislature prepares to tackle the issue when it reconvenes next week. Kan said in front of an audience in Taipei that his experiences with the Fukushima nuclear crisis have changed his opinion of nuclear power, and that Taiwan should close down all of its nuclear reactors.
“Nuclear power is not cheap and is, as a matter of fact, quite risky,” he said on Saturday. “It takes a long time for radiation to decay,” he added, saying that “we should ask ourselves whether it is responsible to leave it for our children and grandchildren to take care of.” Kan said that he has two 1-year-old grandchildren, and he is convinced that his generation should eradicate and abandon nuclear power for the sake of the future generations. Kan said that the present concern right now in Japan was that electricity prices might increase without nuclear power, and that they already have, with the last nuclear reactor in Japan going offline for maintenance with no restart date in sight. But Kan said that Japan’s experience after the Fukushima nuclear disaster showed that it has plenty of power, even with only two reactors operating in the entire nation. Kan is pushing for improving power generation technology focusing on renewable energy so that people can still live comfortable lives without atomic power.
Taiwan’s nuclear reactors have been running safely and profitably for many years and provide the island with nearly 20 percent of its thermal power and electricity needs. There are plans for a fourth power plant to go online in 2015, but there has been resistance from the population, and many people are calling for the project to be suspended. Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou has recently announced plans to hold a public referendum on whether the project should go forward or not, but the lawmaker who proposed the referendum said he has decided to withdraw it, putting the proposal in limbo. During his visit to Taiwan, Kan also attended an anti-nuclear rally and met with New Taipei Mayor Eric Chu and Taipei Mayor Hau Long-bin.