Bill to Abolish Nuclear Power Submitted to the Diet

A ‘nuclear power zero basic bill’ was submitted to the Diet by four opposition parties on March 9, 2018. These were the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, the Liberal Party, the Japan Communist Party, the Social Democratic Party and two independent councilors elected to the Niigata Prefecture council. A bill demanding a nuclear phaseout was submitted to the Diet in 2015, but this was a submission from a single party. The bill submitted this time is the first to be submitted jointly by a number of opposition parties.
  Prior to the submission of the bill, the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan and others held dozens of town meetings nationwide to inform citizens about the bill, and efforts were made to reflect the opinions of the citizens in the bill. As a result, whereas the original bill would have made it possible to operate nuclear power plants in the case of an emergency (such as a cessation of petroleum imports), this proposal was rejected. The bill’s sponsors say they will continue to promote exchanges of views with citizens in the hope of rousing public opinion to demand a nuclear phaseout, which will then generate a momentum toward enactment of the bill.
  The bill has been assigned to the Committee on Economy, Trade and Industry, but the current Diet session will end without any deliberations on the bill, which will then be abandoned. However, the parties say that they plan to reintroduce the bill to the next Diet session with further arousing of public opinion.
  The official name of the bill is the “Bill for Basic Reform for Realization of the Abolition of Nuclear Power and an Energy Transition” and consists of a total of 25 articles. According to the bill, within two years of enforcement of the law, the necessary legal reforms for the planned and efficient abolition of nuclear power will be introduced. All nuclear power plants will be rapidly shut down and all abolished within five years of enforcement of the law. The bill covers commercial reactors, reprocessing facilities, fuel processing facilities and others. Naturally, new, additional and replacement reactors and power plants will not be permitted. The management and disposal of radioactive waste (including spent fuel and plutonium) will also be implemented in a thoroughgoing manner.    
  The bill also refers to the “nurturing of human resources that will include researchers into safe decommissioning and processing/disposal of wastes.”
  The bill also clearly specifies that power consumption in 2030 should be reduced by 30% in comparison with that of 2010, and that the proportion of renewable energy in the power supply should be 40% or more.
  Furthermore, the bill also states that in association with the abolition of nuclear power there will be compensation for losses to electric power businesses and financial support for local municipalities, centering on those that have hosted NPPs.
  In order to push forward these specific tasks toward the phaseout, a “Nuclear Abolition and Energy Transition Reform Promotion Headquarters” will be set up with the prime minister as chairperson and ministers as members to formulate the promotion plan.
  This bill aims to achieve a nuclear phaseout through the creation of a law in the Diet, but has been submitted without agreement from the power industry and industrial circles in general. To enact the bill, since a majority of Diet members will be required to support the bill, efforts from the side of the citizens to increase the number of Diet members supporting the bill will be crucial.
  In addition, the Democratic Party for the People is also preparing a bill to reduce NPPs to zero in the 2030s (the zero-option policy of the former Democratic Party of Japan). As there are also Diet members who emphasize a nuclear phaseout in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, it will be interesting to observe future developments toward the enactment of a nuclear-zero bill.
<Hideyuki Ban, CNIC Co-Director>
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