Anti-Nuke Who’s Who: Minoru Ito – fighting against Hamaoka nuclear power plants Nuke Info Tokyo No. 88
Minoru Ito: Fighting against Hamaoka nuclear power plants
by Shizuo Yanagisawa
Mr. Minoru Ito (60) has been the representative for the Society of Reviewing Hamaoka Nuclear Power Plants, the first anti-nuclear power plant organization in the Hamaoka area, since 1996. Between 1976 and 1993, four nuclear power plants have been constructed and put into operation one after another.
The most disturbing thing is that the Hamaoka nuclear power plants are built in the middle of an earthquake prone region. An earthquake registering eight on the Richter Scale has been predicted. It is referred to as the “Great Tokai Earthquake.” It is reckoned that such a quake would generates as much as eleven times the energy of the Great Hanshin Earthquake of January 1995, which killed more than 6000 people. The Coordination Committee for Earthquake Prediction, a government-affiliated organization, has repeatedly warned of such an event.
Local peoples resistance was strong from the beginning against Chubu Electric’s application for Hamaoka 5. Prior to this, Chubu Electric used to say, “There is no more space left for siting nuclear power plant and Hamaoka 4 will be the last one.” Later, Chubu Electric dismissed its own statement.
The Great Hanshin Earthquake added momentum to the local resistance. The earthquake ruthlessly destroyed the highway and bullet train railway which the government had proudly proclaimed were resistant to any earthquake. The movement against nuclear power plants in Hamaoka spread rapidly. Though Mt. Ito had been unspoken in his opposition to nuclear power plants before the Hanshin Earthquake, the change in the situation made him take a new step.
Thus, “the Society for Reviewing Hamaoka Nuclear Power Plants” was born with Ito as its head. On its establishment, anti-nuclear activists and nuclear scholars gathered to help the Society. They organized a petition campaign pressing for the cancellation of the Hamaoka 5 construction. That petition gathered 3500 signatures, one-fourth of the total voters in Hamaoka.
However, the town mayor and the assembly had no ears to listen for the citizens’ voices, and instead, they approved the construction of Hamaoka 5 in a secret meeting excluding members of the public.
“Why did we lose?” Ito asked himself. In Japan, nuclear energy has been the state policy since the time of its introduction. Accepting one nuclear power plant into a municipality brings huge subsidies from the government and property tax from Chubu Electric. Accordingly, the town comes to be controlled by Chubu Electric both politically and economically. Most citizens in the town, even though they have doubts, cannot speak their mind in public.
Since expressing oppositions to nuclear power plants is relatively easy in cities and towns far from a nuclear power plant, Mr. Ito is now putting his effort into communicating with people nationwide. Mr. Ito’s endeavor is an ongoing process undertaken with his comrade activists, scholars, and his wife Masako.