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December 8: nuclear phase out day

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Kazuhide Fukada

December 8 is “Phase Out Nuclear Energy Day” in Japan. The “Phase Out Nuclear Energy Day” campaign, which now includes a wide range of people, is supporting campaigns around country and wants to remain rooted in people’s daily lives.

“Phase Out Nuclear Energy Day” Organizing Committee - In September this year a few people formed a “virtual group” to initiate a “Phase Out Nuclear Energy Day” campaign. They created an email list and drafted a statement about the nature and purpose of the campaign and publicized it through “Twitter” and “Mixi”. Supporters began to join the email list and a poster and Blog were created to gather supporters, further publicize the campaign and generate “phase out nuclear energy” actions all over Japan around the December 8 date. The campaign, which now includes a wide range of people, wants to remain rooted in people’s daily lives.

The “virtual” group is limiting its aim for this year to getting “Phase Out Nuclear Energy Day” known. We do not plan to organize a major event ourselves this year, but we are supporting other events (see below).

Why December 8?
December 8 is the fifteenth anniversary of the sodium leak and fire at the Monju Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor in Tsuruga City, Fukui Prefecture. About a month later Shigeo Nishimura, deputy general manager of PNC's general affairs department and one of the team leaders of the in-house team tasked with looking into the cover-up, jumped to his death from a hotel in Tokyo and many details of the accident remain unclear to this day.

What is clear, however, is that plutonium-fueled, sodium-cooled Monju is an exceptionally complicated and dangerous nuclear reactor, subjecting the public to even greater risks than “normal” light water reactors and exacerbating the problem of nuclear proliferation.

Believing that the Monju accident should have been the end of nuclear power in Japan, we chose December 8 as “Phase Out Nuclear Energy Day” to simultaneously commemorate the Monju accident, call for the closure of Monju and call for a total phase out of nuclear power.

Why phase-out nuclear energy?
Unfortunately, in spite of strong opposition, Monju was restarted in May this year. There has been a series of problems, culminating in an accident on August 26 in which a 3-ton fuel-loading device dropped into the reactor when it was being removed. Monju has been out of action since then.

Monju is part of Japan’s failed nuclear fuel cycle program. The Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant, another core nuclear fuel cycle facility, is also in serious trouble. Commercial operations were officially postponed for the eighteenth time in September.

In earthquake-prone Japan, nuclear power is the most unsuitable way of generating electricity. There are now 54 nuclear power plants operating in Japan (not including Monju). Besides the danger of accidents, the warm water released from nuclear power plants damages the marine environment and radioactivity released into the environment during the course of regular operations bio-accumulates in the food chain and exposes human beings to radiation.

Nuclear energy is unable to contribute to solving the problem of global warming. Rather it exacerbates the problem. There is an urgent need for the whole of Japan to shift to renewable forms of energy.

Specific actions
The “Phase Out Nuclear Energy Day” campaign is supporting campaigns around Japan, including the 28-year opposition of the people of the island of Iwaishima to Chugoku Electric Power Company’s plan to construct the Kaminoseki Nuclear Power Plant in Yamaguchi Prefecture. We are sponsoring a film screening and public meeting on December 4 in Yamaguchi City.

Our Japanese blog is on the following link

Source: Mari Hoshikawa, Member of the “Phase Out Nuclear Energy Day” Organizing Committee
Contact: Kazuhide Fukada