Pro-nuclear Mayor wins despite anti-Nuclear lobby in Japan
Olivier LeCourt and Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
The crisis in Fukushima at the Daiichi plant made no difference in the mayor election in Kaminoseki. Therefore, the pro-nuclear mayor was re-elected once more and he will continue to push ahead with plans for a new nuclear plant to be built.
Fukushima is a “nuclear football” where scaremongers over-hype the crisis and desire to make Japan non-nuclear. Issues certainly need to be raised and mismanagement at this nuclear plant was a clear factor in the ongoing crisis. However, the earthquake of March 11 which unleashed the tsunami is being used for political purposes and it is difficult to find the truth amidst the propaganda.
It is abundantly clear that safety measures were woefully inadequate and this fact is disputed by few people. Therefore, many individuals still support the nuclear energy sector but their voices are being neglected on the whole because you have a slick anti-nuclear lobby campaign.
Dr. Vojin Joksimovich, who is a PhD holder in nuclear engineering and is a retired nuclear safety specialist, is very skeptical about short-term policies which seek to dismantle the nuclear sector in Japan. He comments in his article titled EU, US, & Japan: Dysfunctional Leaderships are Gambling with leading Capitalist Economies, that “The Japanese nuclear establishment has overlooked the need to provide a need for adequate tsunami protection. San Onofre nuclear power plant in my neighborhood is protected by a 30 foot high tsunami wall. The Tohoku earthquake originated in a subduction zone and the tsunamis generated in a subduction zone are much larger than those resulting from earthquakes in a strike slip geologic fault systems such as faults near San Onofre.”
Dr. Vojin Joksimovich also comments that“Nuclear power plays an important role in the world’s energy mix. It is clean, as the world seeks to reduce carbon emissions. It is steadier than renewables, such as solar and wind, which require a more expensive and sophisticated power grid. In addition, the solar and wind energy storage facilities still need to be developed. The nuclear power, like coal, provides inexpensive source of base power, while solar and wind are useful as supplementary energy sources. The third largest world economy cannot afford to abandon nuclear power. Japan in future could focus on building inherently safe high-temperature gas cooled reactors.”
Therefore, when the pro-nuclear Mayor Shigemi Kashiwabara was re-elected in Kaminoseki against his opponent who is anti-nuclear, then people should take note. After all, images of Fukushima are still in the memory and even now the crisis continues in Fukushima but despite this the majority of people in Kaminoseki remained loyal to the local mayor who supports the building of a new nuclear plant.
Even the reporting of this event is being manipulated by language and excuses are being made. Example, comments stating that “much of the electorate is elderly” and some “small pockets who support nuclear plants remain” – implying that only negative factors won the election. However, it is not some small pockets because the electorate is divided despite all the scaremongering.
Even in Kaminoseki it isn’t so simple because many locals also oppose a nuclear power plant being built and demonstrations took place way before the nuclear crisis in Fukushima. However, the majority did support Kashiwabara but clearly this is a hot topic and very delicate.
The planned Chugoku Electric Power Co hopes to build a new nuclear plant and the major is focused on the needs of the people he represents and obtaining much needed revenue. It is obvious that many towns and cities in the countryside need to attract investments and nuclear power enabled rapid economic growth in Japan along with other sources of energy in the past.
China, India, and South Korea are all focused on expanding nuclear facilities and many Japanese companies are heavily involved in this sector. The current economic crisis throughout the world also needs pragmatism and if Japanese politicians desire to scrap the nuclear sector then it should only be based on feasible alternatives.
Mayor Kashiwabara comments “What is wrong in hoping for a decent living?”
It is a fair question and many parts of the countryside need economic stimulus and while this should not rely on any one particular source of revenue, it is clear that the nuclear option is a source of possible economic support.
In another article published by Modern Tokyo Times it was stated that “Alternative energy can enhance the energy demands of Japan alongside a well maintained nuclear sector but the phasing out of nuclear energy appears to be over dramatic and ill-considered in such a short space of time.”
It would appear that Prime Minister Noda shares the same thinking because he clearly believes that the nuclear sector will remain to be an important source of energy for the next few decades.
However, if a genuine policy of alternative energy is put on the table whereby it makes economic sense and which is obtainable, then the water will no longer be muddy. At the moment, this isn’t happening and nuclear energy isn’t the big evil which it is perceived to be by the anti-nuclear lobby.
Fukushima was about human failure and a freak potent tsunami which destroyed many coastal regions where the earthquake hit. The safety mechanism failed and the defensive structure was inadequate amongst other major failings.
The re-election of Mayor Kashiwabara is a reminder that the nuclear issue is very complex and that many people still believe that this sector is viable and needed.