« はだしのゲン―閲覧制限はすぐ撤回を | トップページ | 香山リカのココロの万華鏡:どう防ぐ「感情の爆発」 /東京 »

2013年8月21日 (水)


The Asahi Shimbun, August 19, 2013
EDITORIAL: Japan, South Korea should work together to cut nuclear power

South Korea is suffering from a serious power crunch as it swelters under a powerful heat wave with daily highs topping 40 degrees in some parts of the nation.

The power shortage stems from the suspension of operations of five of the country’s 23 nuclear reactors partly due to revelations of improprieties in domestic nuclear power plants.

For years, the South Korean government has been steadily increasing the country’s dependence on nuclear power generation. But the government is now facing an unprecedentedly loud chorus of calls from citizens for reducing electricity production with nuclear energy amid criticism over the revelations.

The administration of President Park Geun-hye has said it will work out by year-end a basic plan for future energy supply that sets targets concerning the shares of nuclear power and renewable energy in the country’s electricity mix. We hope the Park administration will pay serious attention to the people’s wishes and embark on full-fledged efforts to scale down the nation’s nuclear power output.

The electricity crisis has generated angry whispers about a “nuclear power mafia” among South Koreans.

In May, it was revealed that parts used in nuclear power equipment had been supplied using fake performance certificates. Investigations into why the forgery had gone undetected uncovered the existence of a close-knit community of public utilities that operate nuclear power plants, related researchers and the regulatory agency.

Prosecutors have questioned a number of people concerned and made a series of arrests.

The administration of former President Lee Myung-bak promoted the construction of nuclear power plants and exports of nuclear technologies. It set a policy target of raising the share of nuclear power in overall electricity generation to about 60 percent in 2030, 60 percent higher than the current level. The Lee administration also promised to increase the share of renewable energy in power generation, which is among the lowest in the developed world, but didn’t pin much hope on natural energy.

The question facing the Park administration is whether it should follow the energy policy set by the previous government.

The Fukushima nuclear disaster has made many South Koreans realize that nuclear power generation is by no means cheap, prompting calls for a shift toward renewable energy sources. The number of lawmakers arguing for less dependency on nuclear power has been rising gradually.

There are already some campaigns for a cleaner energy future that could serve as a model. Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon has announced a program to replace the electricity that can be supplied by one nuclear reactor with a combination of power generation using renewable energy and power savings by 2014. The goal is almost certain to be achieved.

Under the program, solar panels have been installed on the premises of water purifying plants and on the roofs of bus stops. People’s efforts to reduce power consumption are rewarded with increased points on their IC tickets for transportation means. Officials at many other local governments have taken inspection tours in Seoul to study how it is working.

President Park has proposed a “Northeast Asian peace and cooperation initiative” as a key item on her policy agenda. It would involve discussions for regional cooperation in efforts to ensure safety at nuclear power plants and effective responses to natural disasters.

If a major nuclear accident occurs in South Korea, Japan and other neighboring countries would also be affected. The risks of nuclear power generation know no borders. Final disposal of spent nuclear fuel is another tough common challenge for all countries with nuclear power plants.

This summer, both Japan and South Korea have been gripped by record heat waves. This is probably a good opportunity for the two countries to start talks for energy cooperation toward reduced dependence on nuclear power as well as for better nuclear safety.


« はだしのゲン―閲覧制限はすぐ撤回を | トップページ | 香山リカのココロの万華鏡:どう防ぐ「感情の爆発」 /東京 »





« はだしのゲン―閲覧制限はすぐ撤回を | トップページ | 香山リカのココロの万華鏡:どう防ぐ「感情の爆発」 /東京 »