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2012年4月 6日 (金)

原発新安全基準 丁寧な説明で早期に再稼働を

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Apr. 6, 2012)
Edano must carefully explain need to restart Oi reactors
原発新安全基準 丁寧な説明で早期に再稼働を(4月5日付・読売社説)

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda instructed a meeting of ministers related to nuclear power safety to draw up a new set of safety criteria for the restart of the Nos. 3 and 4 reactors at the Oi nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture, which is operated by Kansai Electric Power Co.

Noda gave the instruction because Fukui Gov. Issei Nishikawa and others demanded the central government create new guidelines on nuclear plant safety based on lessons learned from the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co. as a condition for agreeing to the restart of the idle reactors.

To reactivate suspended reactors, it is essential that the prefecture and municipalities hosting them understand their safety. The central government should compile the new safety guidelines as soon as possible and quickly start to convince them to agree with the restart.

The Democratic Party of Japan-led government has been postponing the restart of suspended reactors by implementing additional procedures not called for by law, such as the introduction of stress tests and examinations by the Nuclear Safety Commission.

As a result of its makeshift measures, only one reactor now remains operating among the 54 around the country. But its operations will be also stopped in early May.

If nothing is done, Japan will experience a serious electricity shortage this summer, inflicting heavy damage on its already sagging economy.


New safety guidelines

The prime minister and related ministers should decide on resumption of reactor operations at the Oi plant quickly, without any further waste of time.

The new guidelines are said to give structure and substance to the contents of a 30-item list of safety measures already drawn up by the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.

We expect the new guidelines to illustrate in an easy-to-understand manner measures to avoid a serious crisis like the one that developed at the Fukushima nuclear plant by preventing a complete loss of the plant's operating power even if the plant is hit by a massive earthquake and colossal tsunami.

To obtain the approval of local governments for restarting the reactors, the government must take responsibility for confirming the safety of nuclear power plants. Toward that goal, it is also essential to foster a trusting relationship between ministers related to nuclear safety and concerned local governments.


Edano's remarks indiscreet

In that light, it is a problem that an indiscreet remark by Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yukio Edano has increased a sense of distrust among concerned local governments.

"At present, I'm also against the restart [of the idle reactors at the Oi plant]," Edano said at the House of Councillors Budget Committee on Monday.

Also, when asked to define which local authorities are concerned with the Oi plant, he told the committee that it would be local authorities "all over Japan."

The resumed operation of the Oi plant's reactors also requires consent from the governors of Shiga and Kyoto prefectures, which neighbor Fukui Prefecture, he added.

It was very careless of Edano to make a thoughtless series of gaffes that might toughen requirements for the restart of the idle reactors by himself. We suspect he may not be truly aware of his responsibility as a minister in charge of securing a stable power supply.

He has caused misunderstanding and confusion among the local governments hosting the Oi nuclear plant and others nearby. We fully understand why his remarks were severely criticized.

Edano corrected part of his remarks, but his true intentions have not necessarily been clarified. If the situation remains unresolved, it might make the leaders of the prefecture and municipalities hosting the plant hesitate to agree to the resumption of reactor operations.

Edano must retract his remarks and carefully explain his intentions in detail.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 5, 2012)
(2012年4月5日01時52分  読売新聞)


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