原発再稼働問題 自民党は傍観すべきではない

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Apr. 24, 2012)
LDP mustn't be bystander in talks on restarting reactors
原発再稼働問題 自民党は傍観すべきではない(4月23日付・読売社説)

Both the ruling and opposition parties share the same agenda on energy--avoiding a power crisis.

The main opposition Liberal Democratic Party promoted the country's nuclear power policy for many years, so it is extremely hard to understand why the party has placed all the responsibility on the current government, as if it is someone else's problem. We believe the opposition should proactively help the government restart the country's nuclear reactors.

In a recent speech, LDP President Sadakazu Tanigaki called for public understanding on the need to restart nuclear reactors. "Unless we reactivate the suspended nuclear reactors, it will lead to a number of problems, including disruption of the Japanese economy," he said.

The LDP's special committee on comprehensive energy policy clearly stated in an interim report the party would promote the resumption of the nuclear reactors "on the precondition that their safety is fully ensured and local residents' understanding and approval are obtained."

Nevertheless, the party is slow in helping reactivate the reactors.


Foundation of energy system

Past LDP-led governments insisted nuclear power is essential for Japan, a country with scarce natural resources. In 1974, under the Cabinet of then Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka, three laws were enacted, primarily aimed at promoting the construction of nuclear power plants by extending financial assistance to local governments hosting the plants, thereby laying the foundation of the country's energy system.

Fukui Prefecture is home to a number of nuclear power plants, including the Oi nuclear power plant operated by Kansai Electric Power Co., which has two reactors the central government wants to restart soon. The LDP maintains a strong influence in the prefecture as it holds all three of its seats in the House of Representatives' single-seat constituencies.

The largest opposition party has made a number of proposals to the government regarding measures to reconstruct the country from the Great East Japan Earthquake. The party should in a similar manner present constructive opinions to help the government restart nuclear reactors. It is essential for the party to show consistency in its policies.

The LDP's stance also is unsatisfactory with regard to both mid- and long-term nuclear power policies.

In its draft pledges for the next lower house election, the party effectively put off a decision on nuclear power by saying nationwide discussions should be held over a 10-year period. The party was unable to present a clear direction on the issue because some party members are critical of nuclear power.


Realistic policies needed

Although we would like expanded use of renewable energy resources, such as solar and wind power, there are no clear prospects of this. As LDP Secretary General Nobuteru Ishihara has pointed out, it will be necessary not only to decommission aging nuclear reactors but also to replace them with more reliable models.

Tanigaki should exert his leadership in drawing up realistic energy policies, including how to utilize nuclear power.

On the other hand, the Democratic Party of Japan, working in unison with the government, should proceed with the reactivation of nuclear reactors.

At the same time as the government is seeking Fukui Prefecture's cooperation in restarting the Oi plant's reactors, Yoshito Sengoku, acting chairman of the DPJ Policy Research Committee, met with local Diet members and assembly members of the party.

He stated in no uncertain terms that a political decision would be unavoidable regarding resumption of the nuclear reactors given the expected impact on companies' production and people's livelihood if they remained idle.

To obtain understanding from local governments and residents concerned, the DPJ should abandon its irresponsible policy of ending the country's dependence on nuclear power.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 23, 2012)
(2012年4月23日01時14分 読売新聞)

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