On Sunday, a meeting was held in Japan’s western Fukui Prefecture that was attended by the governor and a committee of nuclear safety experts, where the topic was about the restart of the prefecture’s nuclear power plant in the city of Oi. This is the same meeting that ended with a team of scientists reporting their approval of Prime Minister Noda’s decision to restart the reactors. It turns out that members of the public, understandably wanting to witness the proceedings, were viewed as turning the meeting into “chaos,” and then forced to leave.
The meeting was held on June 10th, at the Fukui Prefectural Government building. Only 50 seats had been set up in the gallery for public views, but roughly 70 people had shown up wanting to hear the justifications of the nuclear restart that they still had safety concerns over. Hideyuki Nakagawa, the chairman of the safety committee, was called on by a few members of the public in the gallery if he and the other experts present were willing to take the responsibility of the power plant’s operations and maintaining its safety. This few people were asked to leave as they were interrupting the deliberations.
But then more locals spoke up and said that the issue being discussed was something that affected every resident in the prefecture, and more, and that on a certain level, it involved a life-or-death decision. They demanded that everyone in attendance that night should be allowed to listen. Organizers then felt that the protesters were causing such a commotion that the police needed to be called and bring things under control. About an hour later the meeting was restarted in a different room, with only members of the press allowed to witness.
Keiji Kobayashi, a former lecturer from the Kyoto University Research Reactor Institute, was in attendance that night, and said that it was a crime to deny the public from participating in a meeting of such significance, and then to hold it behind closed doors. After the meeting, Nakagawa said he regretted what had happened, as it reduces the opportunities for transparency. However, his comment that it was “unfortunate” the members of the gallery created a situation that was disruptive to the discussion comes across more like “they should have shut the hell up and listened to what we decided upon.”
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