Joint statement: Protest against the deceptive GX policy – nuclear power plants are nothing but greenwash.

<This Statement has been endorsed by 22 organizations listed below, including CNIC>

22 December 2022

The Kishida Government launched its GX policy today, which includes rebuilding (replacing) nuclear power plants and further extending their operating periods.

Promoting nuclear power in the name of the ‘environment’ is nothing but greenwash. Nuclear power plants produce nuclear waste that must be managed for tens of thousands of years; they release radioactive contamination through all stages of their life cycle, from mining the uranium fuel to operation and decommissioning. They are troublesome and unstable, unable to be flexibly stopped and restarted, making it difficult to adjust their output, and there are widespread and significant consequences in the case of unplanned shutdowns. Nuclear power plants are not a solution to the electricity supply-demand crunch. Maintaining and promoting nuclear power plants is rather an obstacle to effective measures to address this. Nuclear power plant phase-out is the only way forward.

The operating period of nuclear power plants, which is stipulated as “40 years in principle, with a possible one-time extension of 20 years”, was introduced as a safety regulation for nuclear power plants under an agreement between the ruling and opposition parties following the 2011 TEPCO Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident. Nevertheless, the government now intends to transfer jurisdiction  over the operation period limit from the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), on the grounds that it is determined by reactor utilization policy rather than regulatory policy. This completely disregards the important lesson of the Fukushima Daiichi accident, which is the separation of utilization policy and regulatory policy.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) has stated that there is no scientific basis for the operating period limit and intends to exclude periods of suspension due to inspections or court orders, thereby allowing the extension of operation beyond 60 years. However, most nuclear power plants in Japan are designed to operate for 40 years.

In addition, operating an aging nuclear power plant is extremely hazardous. Even when the plant is out of operation, the piping, cables, pumps, valves and other equipment and components of the plant deteriorate. Many parts cannot be replaced, and the standards for inspections by the power companies and the NRA are extremely unclear. In the past, 11 people were killed or injured in a rupture accident at Mihama Unit 3 due to overlooked pipe thinning. As many as 30 nuclear reactors in France have now been shut down due to cracks found in the pipes at the end of last year.

The policy for the promotion of nuclear power includes a policy of ‘coexistence with the regions where nuclear power plants are located’, which includes various support measures for the regions where nuclear power plants are located. In the past, large amounts of subsidies have been disbursed in relation to nuclear power. This has made the local economy dependent on nuclear power and has in some respects hindered the healthy development of the region. Recently, there have been proposals to increase subsidies for the operation of old nuclear power plants and for the acceptance of reactors that use MOX fuel. This is nothing other than forcing regions to accept risks in the name of “regional development.”

The accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 2011, has still not been resolved. Many people have lost their homes, their livelihoods and their reason for living. The Government of Japan must face up to this damage and pain and give top priority to providing relief to the victims, investigating the causes of the accident, ensuring the safety of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant facilities, passing on the lessons of the accident and ending nuclear power generation.

In the Sixth Strategic Energy Plan, the government states that “there exists a sense of unease among the public about nuclear power and a sense of distrust and opposition to the government and operators who have promoted nuclear energy policies, and social trust in nuclear power has not been fully won back… The government and operators must take this current situation squarely and seriously and continue utmost efforts and initiatives to win public trust in nuclear power”. However, the current nuclear power promotion policy was decided leaving the public in the dark and without even public comment, by a METI council with an overwhelming majority of members who represent the interests of the nuclear industry. It is very unconvincing.

We are against the government’s pro-nuclear GX policy and demand that it be withdrawn.

FoE Japan

Hidanren (the Liaison Committee for Organizations of Victims of the Nuclear Disaster)

No Nukes Fukushima Network

Aizu Radiation Information Center

Children’s Lawsuit Against Radiation Exposure

National Evacuees Group Claiming the Right to Evacuate

Plaintiffs Demanding an Injunction on the Restart of Onagawa NPP

Goodbye Kashiwazaki-Kariwa NPP Project

Enaga Group

Stop Nukes! Tokatsu Group

Osaka Group Against Mihama, Ohi and Takahama NPPs

Kansai Liaison Committee for Drawing up Evacuation Plans

All Fukui No Nukes Liaison Committee

Takahama and Ohi Group to Protect Our Hometowns

Lawsuit to stop the Genkai NPP

Residents Within 30km radius of Sendai NPP Network

Liaison Council Against Construction at Sendai NPP

Sendai Tsuyukusa Group

Toold40 Nagoya

Citizens’ Nuclear Information Network

Group Considering Fukushima’s Ageing Reactors

Fridays for Future Tokyo

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