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2013年9月21日 (土)

原発汚染水対策 政府は廃炉まで積極関与せよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun September 21, 2013
Govt must take more active role in handling N-contaminated water
原発汚染水対策 政府は廃炉まで積極関与せよ(9月20日付・読売社説)

Resolving the problems at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s ruined Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant is a process requiring as many as 30 to 40 years before plant’s reactors can be dismantled.

During that time, the government must retain the ability to involve itself responsibly in resolving problems at the complex.

Visiting the plant on Thursday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe inspected items such as tanks that leaked water contaminated with radioactive substance. He also gave workers words of encouragement.

Abe urged TEPCO management to push forward with cleaning up the tainted water by instituting deadlines for the task. He also called for the decommissioning of the Nos. 5 and 6 reactors, which have remained idle even though they did not suffer meltdowns or hydrogen explosions after the March 11, 2011, Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.

It seems Abe has taken the bull by the horns and resolved to beef up countermeasures against the vast amounts of tainted water. It is only natural and reasonable that, after the on-site inspections, he reiterated that the government “must take the lead and fulfill its responsibility” in tackling the crisis.

The government has decided to allocate about ¥47 billion to try to address the contaminated water problem. Its steady budgetary implementation is imperative.

Until now, the government has left the task of handling the crisis, including tainted water disposal, in TEPCO’s hands.

There can be no denying that the government’s inaction slowed efforts to deal with the accident and ensuing turmoil.

The Liberal Democratic Party, for that matter, has begun considering enacting a special law to share responsibility for the clean up between the government and TEPCO and clarify a chain of command. Passage of such a law will provide the government with the mandate to extend fiscal support to end the crisis.

Just beginning of resolution

What is of high importance in this matter is that the special law should not be limited to countermeasures against contaminated water, but should cover the entire process of resolving the crisis.

The task of containing the tainted water is nothing more than the beginning of resolving the crisis.

Given the colossal expenses and manpower needed for reactor decommissioning, decontamination and related challenges, it would be unrealistic to leave everything to TEPCO. The system of extending assistance to the utility must be drastically revamped.

At the International Olympic Committee general meeting earlier this month in Buenos Aires, Abe said the tainted water problem at the plant “is under control.”

In a bid to win the right to host the 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics, the prime minister’s remark was based on the idea that contaminated water is limited to the port adjacent to the plant. After Thursday’s inspection, he said the message was intended to “assure the world that the situation is safe and secure and poses no risk to human health.”

The Democratic Party of Japan, for its part, has criticized the prime minister’s message, saying the current situation at the plant “is far from being under control.” However, the public will surely take such remarks as little more than frivolous objections.

First of all, it was the DPJ administration that set the pattern of leaving crisis resolution to TEPCO.

It has been brought to light that DPJ leader Banri Kaieda, while serving as economy, trade and industry minister two years ago, acknowledged TEPCO’s decision to postpone plans to install protective walls to prevent tainted water leaks at the Fukushima plant.

The top priority for both the ruling and opposition camps should be to come up with better ways to resolve the issue.

Discussions should be deepened between the ruling and opposition blocs about such issues as how the crisis should be addressed and how the burden should be shared between the government and TEPCO, through such venues as meetings during the Diet recess and deliberations in the extraordinary Diet session, which will be convened in mid-October.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 20, 2013)
(2013年9月20日01時30分  読売新聞)


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