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2012年8月21日 (火)

原発ゼロ発言 無責任な楽観論を振りまくな

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Aug. 21, 2012)
Denuclearization is not a viable option
原発ゼロ発言 無責任な楽観論を振りまくな(8月20日付・読売社説)

It is irresponsible for a Cabinet minister in charge of promoting exports of nuclear power plants as part of Japan's growth strategy to state that the nation's ratio of nuclear power generation to total electricity output should become zero as soon as possible.

Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yukio Edano recently visited Vietnam, where Japanese firms have won tentative orders to construct nuclear reactors, and signed an agreement with the Vietnamese government under which Japan would cooperate to create a system necessary for the introduction of nuclear plants.

Edano told the media Japan has a responsibility to contribute to the international community by disseminating nuclear safety technology abroad.

Before visiting Vietnam, however, Edano said he believed the ratio of nuclear power generation in Japan's total electricity output "should become zero as soon as possible." Does this mean he will sell nuclear reactors to other countries while abolishing them quickly in his own country? How can he win international trust that way?

If this nation decides to abolish nuclear power generation, it will not be able to foster nuclear power experts. This means it would not be able to maintain its contribution to Vietnam in terms of nuclear safety. Edano should withdraw his contradictory remarks on denuclearization.


Zero option unrealistic

The government has presented to the public three scenarios on the ratio of nuclear power generation in 2030: zero percent, 15 percent, and 20 percent to 25 percent. Without doubt, the most unrealistic among the three is zero percent.

If the ratio were reduced to zero percent, the damage to the Japanese economy would be immense. According to the government's estimate, Japan's gross domestic product would drop by 50 trillion yen.

The private sector's outlook in this respect is also bleak. The Japan Business Federation (Keidanren) warned that the number of unemployed would increase by 2 million under this scenario. The steel industry, which consumes huge amounts of electricity, said this scenario suggests their businesses would have to close as electricity bills could increase up to two times.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has instructed ministers concerned to study what challenges the nation would face if the ratio became zero and to work out measures to overcome them. We cannot turn a blind eye to his instructions if they are aimed at arming the government with theories justifying denuclearization.


Edano irresponsible

We are extremely worried when we hear casual opinions voiced by some members of the Noda government despite painful calls from the economic sector that Japan can do without nuclear plants.

It is particularly distressing when Edano, a minister responsible for both the stable supply of electricity and industrial development, is spreading such overoptimistic views.

In saying that zero percent is a viable option, Edano said, "It will rather benefit the economy as long as we do it right."

He meant it would lead to expansion of domestic demand if renewable energy sources replaced nuclear reactors.

However, the reality is harsher. Germany has decided to promote renewable energy ahead of Japan, but it has come up against a number of negative factors, such as sharply increased financial burdens on households because of higher electricity bills, and the bankruptcy of German solar panel makers overwhelmed by an influx of lower-priced Chinese products.

It is extremely dangerous to decide on an energy strategy that affects the fate of Japan on the basis of such uncertain hopes.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 20, 2012)
(2012年8月20日01時32分  読売新聞)


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