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Japan pitches nuclear restart in tightly controlled town hall meetings

25 Comments
By Kentaro Hamada

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Welcome to democracy Japan style. Smoke and mirrors.

This is pretty much how any controversial decision is railroaded through the process — decision first, scripted meetings next to provide the illusion of open dialog and community participation.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

If nuclear power is so safe and it is not necessary for residents to be part of any 'approval process' then why isn't it the case nuclear power companies are not insurable for damages?

There are still many people in Fukushima without money and living in temporary accommodation ....

10 ( +11 / -1 )

"It’s like going to get a risky surgery at a hospital without giving your consent."

It's more like having the dubious surgeon turning up on your doorstep forcing you and all your family to have risky, unnecessary surgery and demanding you pay for it after the fact.

In Ichikikushikino, a town less than 5 km from the plant, more than half the 30,000 residents signed a petition opposing the restart. That town and nearby Hioki city, with 50,000 people, have both formally asked to be part of the approval process, but Governor Ito has refused.

I hope Governor Ito's official residence is located in the grounds of the plant.

Organisers were forced to introduce a lottery system due to the high interest in attending the meeting.

No, they were not forced to introduce a lottery system. They chose to restrict the number of people allowed to attend. They could and should have chosen a larger venue: one large enough to accommodate all residents of the area likely to be affected by a nuclear accident, i.e. a 300 km radius? That would probably involve multiple venues scattered over the area and linked for teleconferencing.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

A farce, exactly. A totalitarian and dangerous farce. The Abe gang is still under the impression that the Japanese public can be cowed. Not after Fukushima.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

All about the money

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Were the press alowed into the meeting or do they have to rely on official, pro-nuclear press releases?

5 ( +5 / -0 )

The usual tricks are in play. I imagine most of those who won the "lottery" were pro-nuclear plants, told in advance what questions to ask.

The government has no interest in the opinions of local people and all these meetings are just for show.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Ah, Japanese fascism at its finest! If you agree you are invited. If you disagree you are not invited. I guess that's one way to gain public support. Just ignore and shut out anybody that disagrees.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

So in other words: "Just to set everybody's mind at ease about how safe this nuclear reactor is we will have a folksy old town hall type meeting to put to rest all these concerns you have with it. We just ask that you refrain from raising questions about anything that actually concerns you about the reactors. Also, do NOT, I repeat NOT record anything we say, we don't want anyone not attending the meeting to know what we are talking about and we certainly don't want anything that could be used as evidence in court. Oh and also anybody living in a town whose main employer is not the nuclear reactor is not allowed in, even if their homes will be rendered uninhabitable if we screw things up like we did in Fukushima. But rest assured, we probably won't do that again."

4 ( +4 / -0 )

" but Governor Ito has refused." this is the arrogance of the political elite. The article stinks of a totalitarian system. But all over the world the people are biting back, forcing their voice to be heard, something that frightens the political elite.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

"Kagoshima Gov Yuichiro Ito says the final decision will rest with the governments of the prefecture and Satsumasendai. Ito and the city’s mayor, Hideo Iwakiri, both favor restarting the plant."

In other words it's the same old lip-service. The people have the greatest say, so long as they agree with the government. Otherwise, they're say means nothing. The government is DESPERATE for public approval so that they can do what they are going to do anyway, but blame it on them.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

City and prefectural officials hosting Thursday’s town hall barred the 1,000 residents who packed a concert hall from recording the briefing and ruled out questions on such areas of concern as evacuation plans or the broad issue of restarts.

Instead, dark-suited NRA officials fielded specific, technical questions about the vetting process that the agency followed in clearing Sendai for restart.

If I didn't know better I would think this article was about China or Russia. Freedom of speach, thought and expression are clearly not high priorities to Abe and J-Inc. since they have already determined what is "best" for Japan.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

i would love to see any member of abe's admin or any exec from any power provider live anywhere near one of these "safe" nuclear sites.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

If the locals refused service to employees of the nuclear power station then in restaurants, supermarkets, markets etc then the message would be clearer.....

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Ichikikushikino, a town less than 5 km from the plant,

Wait, what?

That isn't right. The plant is 15-20km from the town. Maybe 5km from the municipal border?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

If they want to discuss evacuation plans, they can do that with the relevant authorities. Broad issues of restarts are in the political arena, not the NRA's.

Star-viking -- please read the entirety of the article, instead of just one sentence:

City and prefectural officials hosting Thursday’s town hall barred the 1,000 residents who packed a concert hall from recording the briefing and ruled out questions on such areas of concern as evacuation plans or the broad issue of restarts.

You are right, the NRA would have been out of its area of expertise to field questions abiut things like evacuation plans, etc. But that is the whole point -- the "officials" deliberately chose to only have NRA representatives present and specifically barred anyone who wanted to address these issues. That makes it a sham, and is a deliberate stifling of relevant debate.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Jerseyboy,

You are right, the NRA would have been out of its area of expertise to field questions abiut things like evacuation plans, etc. But that is the whole point -- the "officials" deliberately chose to only have NRA representatives present and specifically barred anyone who wanted to address these issues. That makes it a sham, and is a deliberate stifling of relevant debate.

I don't know about that - if the meeting had consisted of NRA and local government employees then there would have just been buck-passing: the local govt. employees would seek to pass questions on to the NRA, to avoid any shaming by the community. The NRA, rightly, would pass them many of them back, as not being in their remit.

Far better to have multiple meetings where responsible parties get queried on the points applicable to them.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

A lottery system... did anyone examine the results? Were they perhaps biased hopelessly towards the elderly (who didn't turn up), male salarymen (and then the meeting was scheduled during working hours so they couldn't come), and the owners of heavy industry (who did turn up and yelled their support)?

... or were the lottery results one of those new "state secrets"?

1 ( +4 / -3 )

"Safe", but might fail versus the tsunami wave heights that doomed the Fukushima Daiichi plant?

wikipedia Fukushima Daiichi:

The subsequent destructive tsunami with waves of up to 14 meters (the reactors were designed to handle up to 5.7 meters) disabled emergency generators required to cool the reactors.

wikipedia Sendai Nuclear Plant:

According to the (14 December 2011 stress tests) test, the reactors could withstand a seismic shock of 945 to 1,020 gals and tsunami-waves of a height of 13 to 15 meters.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I wonder if at the meetings they pointed out that at Fukushima the levels of Tritium and beta-emitting strontium have tripled since the typhoon a week ago, and may get worse after VongFong, in water tanks just off the Pacific? My guess is, "no".

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Instead, dark-suited NRA officials fielded specific, technical questions about the vetting process that the agency followed in clearing Sendai for restart.

What do they expect? The NRA is tasked with evaluating technical details of the restarts, asking them to do something outside of their remit, especially in Japan, is ridiculous.

I also have to wonder why we are told the colour of the NRA representives's suits? Perhaps the writer wants to portray them negatively?

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

Make the damn things safe, turn the damn things back on, get the fuel bill down, get things going again, don't worry about the scare mongers and their left wing PC agenda. Bulldoze right over them, stopping progress almost as if it was back in the 1920's or even the 1950's, always someone who wants to stand in the way of progress .

No, but seriously, secure the safety of these reactors and get them going again, japan needs the nuclear power and a lower fuel bill

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

jerseyboy,

If I didn't know better I would think this article was about China or Russia. Freedom of speach, thought and expression are clearly not high priorities to Abe and J-Inc. since they have already determined what is "best" for Japan.

If they want to discuss evacuation plans, they can do that with the relevant authorities. Broad issues of restarts are in the political arena, not the NRA's.

It's funny complaining about freedom as speech, as you will find they tolerate no dissent in their own communities. Try bucking the trend outside of the big cities in Japan and you'll find yourself being boycotted by your neighbours.

In fact, the one real anti-freedom of speech part of the article is this:

“What is the point of this meeting then?” asked one woman, who said she ought to be allowed to record the proceedings.

She wants to record the whole proceedings, without getting permission from all the participants? If she was allowed to do that it would break privacy laws, and probably dissuade anyone from raising any points that might be interpreted as being against the local community's 'opinion'.

-11 ( +1 / -12 )

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