On Wednesday afternoon Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda met with a group of representatives from the ever-increasing weekly anti-nuclear demonstrations that began five months ago. Close to a dozen members of the movement met with the prime minister to ask him to return the two nuclear reactors in western Japan that were restarted this summer to a state of suspension, and abandon the country’s use of nuclear power completely.
The representatives pointed out that weekly rallies have been drawing crowds close to 200,000 in number, and that the population of Japan is unhappy with the continued use of nuclear power and its lack of safety after the March 2011 Fukushima disaster. One speaker pointed out the two reactors in Oi, Fukui Prefecture were restarted before the incident at Fukushima has even be resolved. Another said that it was clear the people of Japan were surviving the summer’s heat without problem with two reactors online, which is evidence that the country can get by without nuclear power. The fear of power shortages in the western Kansai region was one of the justifications Prime Minister Noda used to restart the Oi facility earlier this summer. The demonstrators’ final message was that they “will never, never, never, never give up” until all of Japan’s nuclear reactors are shut down permanently, and that the Fukushima disaster and its victims will also never be forgotten.
Noda’s response to the group was that his government was making plans to work towards a phasing out of nuclear power in the mid-to-long term, and that for the immediate future, they were trying develop an energy policy that will take the public’s views into account. Before the Fukushima disaster, Japan relied on nuclear power for over 30% of its energy generation. The government has stated that it will unveil its revised energy policy as early as next month, and, with the public’s input, is trying to decide on three options that would see goals of between 0 and 25% use of nuclear power in effect by the year 2030. Prime Minister Noda has been hesitant in recent weeks to confirm that he will work towards the 0% goal for the future, while Yukio Edano, the Industry Minister, has commented that Japan could eliminate its use of nuclear power by 2030, despite it being difficult, it would be good for the country’s economy.