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2012年7月26日 (木)

エネルギー選択 付け焼き刃の議論で決めるな

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jul. 26, 2012)
Don't decide energy option through ad hoc discussions
エネルギー選択 付け焼き刃の議論で決めるな(7月25日付・読売社説)

The basic policy on energy, which will determine the nation's future, should not be decided through ad hoc "national debates."

The government presented three options on the ratio of nuclear power in the nation's mix of power sources for the year 2030, namely zero, 15 percent, or 20 percent to 25 percent. It is carrying out procedures to seek public opinions regarding which option would be most desirable.

Among such procedures are hearings where randomly selected members of the public express their opinions. Eleven such hearings have been or will be held through Aug. 4 at 11 locations nationwide.

It is reasonable for the government to seek a wide sample of public opinions, but it cannot be overlooked that the hearings have caused trouble.

At hearings on July 15 and 16, employees of electric power companies, who identified their employers by name, called for the continued use of nuclear power. Both times, this caused a fierce backlash from other participants who support moving away from dependence on nuclear energy.

The government then hastily decided not to allow employees of power companies and affiliated businesses to express opinions at such hearings. At hearings held Sunday at two locations, the government kept four people working in the industry from expressing their views.


Why have a gag rule?

We are concerned that prohibiting people in the power industry from expressing their views on energy policy is a form of suppression of free speech. The government needs to convincingly explain why it changed the rules in the middle of the process.

To avoid unproductive black-and-white arguments over pro- or anti-nuclear power positions, we consider it vitally important for members of society to express opinions from various points of view and calmly discuss them.

It is also distressing to observe the bad manners displayed by some participants at those hearings, such as excessive booing by those seeking an end to nuclear power.

We also cannot eliminate our concerns over a "deliberative poll," a new method of public survey and discussions the government plans to conduct on Aug. 4 and 5.

Among about 3,000 people nationwide who responded in an opinion survey on the energy options, 200 to 300 who wished to participate in a two-day discussion meeting will do so. After the meeting, the government will again conduct an opinion survey on the participants.


An opinion experiment

We understand the purpose of such a measure--to deepen public understanding of the issue through discussions and observe how public opinions change. But public views could be influenced in certain directions, depending on the content of materials used for discussions and how such an event is held. The government should consider such a method as a mere experimental project--it must not directly reflect the results derived from the event in shaping its policies.

In the first place, all three policy options the government presented are based on the assumption that the ratio of renewable energy sources, including hydroelectric power, will be raised from the current 10 percent or so to 25 percent to 35 percent. People in business circles and others have vocally opposed such scenarios as unattainable.

As long as current circumstances remain unchanged, none of the three policy choices represent a realistic composition of power sources to ensure a stable power supply.

To hammer out a mid- to long-term energy policy in which impacts on the economy and the environment are taken into account, the government should reconsider the suitability of the three options.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 25, 2012)
(2012年7月25日01時42分  読売新聞)


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