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Japanese agency fights back as N-program comes under attack

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#393
25/06/1993
Article

(June 25, 1993) Generating plant construction plans are released by Japanese electric utilities each April. This year they contain plans to build five nuclear power plants. All of the newly planned units are proposed as additions to existing facilities, which makes them easier to build than plants requiring new sites. [Japan already has 42 reactors currently connected to the grid, with another 10 under construction.]

(393.3832) WISE Amsterdam - This is the first time in seven years that new nuclear power plants have been included in Japanese utility construction plans. At the same time, however, all existing plans have been postponed for one to three years. In fact, these plans have been put off every year, thereby continually widening the gap between actual capacity and the government's long-term fore-cast of energy supply and demand. It appears that, in order to bring supply more in line with the government's forecast, the utilities have rushed into new plans for generating stations that will commence operating before those in the already existing plans.

Meanwhile, with no real solid promises of orders for new nuclear plants, manufacturers are anguishing over their overstaffed nuclear power divisions. For this reason, Hitachi, Ltd. recently decided to transfer about 300 employees, including those at subsidiaries, from its nuclear power division to its thermal power division. Hitachi explained the move as designed not merely to reduce its nuclear power division staff, but also to maintain the level of its employees' technical expertise by having them work on actual construction in the thermal power division.

The government, too, is anguishing over Japan's nuclear program. Due to mounting protests and criticism of Japanese plutonium policy both within and abroad, the government has become increasingly desperate to get general public support for its policy. How desperate was revealed on 6 April when it became public that the Agency of Natural Resources and Energy at the Japanese Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) had called on Japan's five major national newspapers to place advertisements on their behalf in the guise of 'editorials' which did not reveal that they were in fact advertisements paid for by the government. Of the five newspapers,Yomiuri, Sankei, and Mainichi accepted the offer, whereas Asahi and Nikkei (The Economic Journal) refused.

The three papers accepting the offer featured full-page 'articles' between 27 and 31 March which presented a completely one-sided view of how 'plutonium is safe and necessary'. The 'articles' took the form of round-table discussions with a member of the editorial staff as chairperson and a panel made up of academics and pro-nuclear researchers and at least one representative of the Agency of Natural Resources and Energy.

Representatives from several citizens' groups visited MITI and the three newspaper companies on 8 April to submit a declaration of protest against the violations of Japanese newspaper advertising standards (which "prohibit carrying advertisements which are not clearly identified as such and which do not clearly identify the organization responsible for the ad"). MITI, say members of the group, was mighty unfriendly, and talked to them for only 10 minutes, saying the newspaper companies were to blame for any violations that occurred because they accepted the offers.

The Consumers Union of Japan, Greenpeace Japan and the Citizens' Nuclear Information Center later visited the Japan Advertisement Review Organization, Inc. and filed a claim. The claim will be formally proposed at their business committee meeting.

Source: Nuke Info Tokyo (Japan), May/June 1993, pp. 4 & 9.
Contact: Citizens' Nuclear Information Center, 302 Daini Take Bldg., 1-59-14 Higashi-nakano,
Nakano-ku, Tokyo 164 Japan; tel: + 81-3-5330-9520; fax: 5330-9530.