Fukushima to scrap nuclear plants

Prefecture vows to shift from atomic to renewable energy

Kyodo

Fukushima Prefecture vowed to shift away from nuclear power plants in its vision compiled Friday for reconstruction after the March 11 quake and tsunami.

The about-face came after Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s declaration Wednesday of pursuing a society free from dependence on nuclear energy and is expected to affect the policies of other prefectures that host atomic plants.

Fukushima may be the first prefecture with nuclear plants to vow to eliminate them, an official at the Natural Resources and Energy Agency said.

It has coexisted with nuclear plants since the first reactor of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant started commercial operation in 1971.

It now has 10 reactors, including those at the plant plagued with the crisis.

On June 27, Fukushima Gov. Yuhei Sato specified his change in policy from tolerance of nuclear plants before the disaster, saying he concluded that Fukushima should pursue a society that does not depend on nuclear energy.

The vision calls for promoting renewable energy sources instead of nuclear energy, overcoming the present nuclear crisis and building a society invulnerable to disasters.

The prefecture will officially adopt the reconstruction vision in early August after soliciting public comments. The vision will be the basis for a reconstruction plan to be developed by the end of this year.

‘Personal’ policy: Kan

Prime Minister Naoto Kan told Cabinet members Friday that the policy he announced this week of trying to build a society that doesn’t depend on nuclear energy is “personal,” not government policy, Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda said.

The disparity over Kan’s views on nuclear issues within the Cabinet also became clearer. National Public Safety Commission chief Kansei Nakano said Kan’s remarks Wednesday are “causing confusion” as he and other Cabinet members were not informed in advance what he would say.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said an informal Cabinet meeting on nuclear issues will likely be held early next week.

Noda said the government should not decide future policy on nuclear energy “too hastily.”

Economics minister Kaoru Yosano said the issue of how to reduce Japan’s dependence on nuclear energy must be addressed within the wider context of energy policy.

“It will likely take a fairly long time before the country can completely reduce nuclear power generation,” Yosano, known as a proponent of atomic energy, said.

On Wednesday, Kan said Japan should aim to eventually pull out of nuclear energy after gradually reducing its use in the coming years in light of the serious accident at the Fukushima No. 1 plant.

Before the March 11 earthquake and tsunami ravaged the Fukushima plant, nuclear energy accounted for about 30 percent of electricity generated in Japan.