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2011年7月15日 (金)

社説:「脱原発」表明 目指す方向は評価する

(Mainichi Japan) July 14, 2011
PM's pursuit of nuclear power-free society should be commended, but details lacking
社説:「脱原発」表明 目指す方向は評価する

Prime Minister Naoto Kan announced at a news conference on July 13 that Japan will gradually decrease its reliance on nuclear power, with the ultimate goal of achieving a nuclear power plant-free society.

This represents a fundamental rethink of Japan's basic energy policy -- a change we essentially support and appreciate, as we have repeatedly asserted that Japan has no choice but to rely less on nuclear power.

What the prime minister said at the news conference, however, lacked specifics and raised numerous questions.  しかし、首相のこの日の会見ではあまりに具体性が乏しい。

Kan said the government will aim to achieve a society without nuclear plants in the future, but when does "in the future" refer to?

How will the government promote the development and introduction of substitute energy sources?

At the outset of the news conference, Kan said he would clarify his own ideas on the issue, but is it just his personal view or a policy adopted by the Cabinet or the entire Kan administration and ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) legislators?

As Kan is supposed to step down in the not too distant future, the Cabinet and the ruling coalition should quickly work out basic policy principles on his initiative.

Differences have recently surfaced between Kan and Economy, Trade and Industry Banri Kaieda over whether to resume operations at two reactors at the Genkai Nuclear Power Plant in Saga Prefecture, which have been suspended for regular inspections.

The prime minister apologized at the news conference, saying that a delay in issuing his instructions on the matter caused confusion.

Critics have raised doubts about how far a nuclear power-free policy has been discussed within the Cabinet.

Needless to say, it is indispensable to promote the policy on the initiative of the prime minister.

However, considering the fact that even top officials of the DPJ executive office are distancing themselves from the prime minister and that attention is focused on the timing of Kan's resignation, it is feared that the pursuit of an end to nuclear power will end up being merely a Kan pet project.

In the meantime, Kan declared that despite the ongoing crisis at the tsunami-hit Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, company and household power-saving efforts will be enough to carry Japan through the summer and winter without electricity shortages.

However, his declaration apparently failed to convince the public because he did not present any supporting figures.

Moreover, he said the government will promote the use of natural gas-fired thermal power stations and take other measures to make up for electric power shortages next summer and beyond.

However, he only said he "would like to work out a specific plan" and stopped short of giving details.

Such an explanation will never convince the industrial world, where distrust of the Kan Cabinet is already growing over inconsistency in basic policy.

The important question is how the government will protect people's safety and livelihoods as well as business.

It is certainly an important policy issue that members of the public should decide on.

The issue will emerge as a major point of contention in the next general election, and it is the DPJ's responsibility as the governing party to clearly show its basic thinking on the issue.

The prime minister again stopped short of clarifying the timing of his resignation during the news conference, but his failure to do so could give rise to groundless speculation that he is trying to use his anti-nuclear power policy to cling to power.

The issue should also be discussed during the DPJ presidential election to pick Kan's successor.

毎日新聞 2011年7月14日 2時31分


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