politics

Noda tells protesters he'd like to phase out nuclear power

44 Comments

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda met anti-nuclear protesters face-to-face on Wednesday for the first time since weekly rallies outside his office began five months ago.

About a dozen representatives from a loosely structured network of groups opposed to nuclear energy in Japan known as the Metropolitan Coalition Against Nukes asked Noda to reverse his decision to restart two reactors and urged him to abandon nuclear power altogether.

Thousands of people regularly turn up in central Tokyo's government district to demand an end to atomic power, with distrust of the technology running high after the 2011 Fukushima disaster.

"People keep coming to our weekly rally," Misao Redwolf told the premier. "That's because anger is ballooning as you restarted nuclear reactors despite the fact that the Fukushima disaster has not been resolved yet."

Another demonstrator pointed out that Japan is surviving its oppressively hot summer with just two reactors online, proof that the resource-poor country can do without nuclear power.

"We will never, never, never, never give up until nuclear reactors are stopped. And on top of that, we will never forget the Fukushima disaster and its victims," said another demonstrator.

Noda told the protesters his government was considering its energy policy with a view to "phasing out nuclear power in the mid to long-term."

He said the decision would be made taking people's views and the need for a stable supply of energy into account.

Demonstrators have been asking for a meeting with Noda for some time, while the government has struggled to develop a united position on the prickly issue.

Weekly protests began in March with organizers claiming tens or even hundreds of thousands of people at each event, although police estimates of the turnout are usually considerably lower.

Opinion polls show a majority of voters would like to see a phasing out of Japan's reliance on nuclear power, which provided almost a third of the country's electricity until the tsunami-sparked meltdowns at Fukushima.

The government is expected to draw up plans for Japan's future energy mix as early as this month.

Options under discussion range from nuclear providing around 30 percent of the country's needs to there being no nuclear power at all.

Under a zero-nuclear scenario, government experts have forecast Japan's economic growth could be hampered.

But industry minister Yukio Edano said earlier this month that Japan could phase out nuclear power by 2030 without damaging the world's third-largest economy.

Senior members of Noda's Democratic Party of Japan are leaning toward a zero-reliance option as they struggle to earn public support ahead of a seemingly inevitable autumn election.

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Sales by 10 major power utilities in July dropped by 6.3% due to a decline in demand, the Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan has revealed.

But while efforts to cut down electricity use by households and the business sector are paying off, some say the numbers prove that last month's reactivation of two reactors at Kansai Electric Power Co.'s Oi nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture may have been unnecessary.

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Select members of Metropolitan Coalition Against Nukes will meet with the prime minister on August 22, 2012 from 2PM to 2:20PM, and they will hold a press conference from 3:30PM.

Moderator: It is not necessary to post this.

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I have made three on topic comments, only to have all deleted? Why bother even making a post if JT don't want comments?

Moderator: If you wish to post on the discussion board, post your opinion on the story. Do not post information from other sites as you frequently do. You may post the URL, if you wish, but that's all.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I hope this anti nuclear protesters realize that nuclear energy is a necessity on the other side. Hopefully PM Noda can convince them.

-4 ( +10 / -14 )

According to the Federation of Power Companies, total power sales for July dropped by 6.3%.

Power blackouts were predicted, especially in KEPCO's Kansai area if it didn't restart two of it's reactors at it's Oi power plant.

I think July was cooler but Aug has been hot and now we are in the last part of the month, and no power blackouts. The KEPCO power demand didn't exceed what it could have supplied without using it's Oi reactors.

From reading reports, the majority of people attending those gov't townhall meetings on the future of nuclear energy, seem to be opposed or at least wanting a big reduction in the future use of nuclear energy.

Maybe, the power blackouts were also avoided because many major companies installed some form of power generation.

1 ( +10 / -9 )

I hope PM Noda realizes that nuclear energy is not a necessity and that all it takes is an honest person with courage and vision to apply modern technology and common sense to create a nuclear free Japan (and world). Hopefully these nuclear protesters can convince him.

2 ( +11 / -9 )

Lets have a meeting with the bully who is being bullied! Only two on line, no blackouts no cuts just a scramble to justify the resumption of the superfluous 50. Safety??? The staff have to wear helmets!

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

zichiAug. 22, 2012 - 02:27PM JST

I think July was cooler but Aug has been hot and now we are in the last part of the month, and no power blackouts. The KEPCO power demand didn't exceed what it could have supplied without using it's Oi reactors.

Entirely false by all properly reported numbers. Non-nuclear capacity by KEPCO is about 18.5GW peak assuming full hydro reserves. An additional 7 GW can be supplied by the other major companies (1.5GW) and from private companies in possession of mothballed coal plants and some other fossil fuel plants (5.5GW). Total is 25.5GW (bit more due to rounding to multiples of 0.5) on an average daily peak demand of 26GW for days with 35C+ temperature. This demand includes mandatory 5%+ savings on top of voluntary savings.

The current non-nuclear capacity of KEPCO is expected to be just 24.5GW for the remainder of the month to conserve hydro reserves which have already limited production to 85% of peak, as well as a loss of almost 1GW to fossil fuel use. No data is given for that reduction, but it can be assumed to be hardware failure or an inability to use certain plants for regulatory reasons.

The reason why there have been no blackouts in the entire Kansai area is because KEPCO restated the nuclear plants early enough to avoid depletion of hydro resources as well as allow their production to meet most of the demand, reducing dependence on other major companies which are similarly strained. If the people are unable to see this, they will suffer from economic and health losses that will make Fukushima seem trivial in comparison.

-2 ( +13 / -15 )

zichiAug. 22, 2012 - 02:27PM JST

The KEPCO power demand didn't exceed what it could have supplied without using it's Oi reactors.

I have reported several times on the issue using both KEPCO and independent sources. KEPCO used more than 26 GW for several days in July, from a maximum non-nuclear capacity of 25.5. The 27th saw a use of 26.8GW, which is far more than possible even reaching the carrying limit for external sources. This maximum capacity of course includes non-KEPCO sources.

-5 ( +11 / -16 )

Nuclear energy is not safe in the hands of gov't and power companies who for more than four decades, lied to the people over the safety of the atomic power plants.

3 ( +12 / -9 )

National policy minister Motohisa Furukawa stated yesterday, that the country should no longer depend on nuclear energy.

2 ( +8 / -6 )

Under a zero-nuclear scenario, government experts have forecast Japan’s economic growth could be hampered.

And private sector analysts, major corporations, and anyone else with two cents of reason. The BEST case scenario is something like -7% "growth", which would be enough to bring Japan back to the post war era within twenty years

-1 ( +9 / -10 )

While I don't like nuclear energy, why is it better to use old moth balled plants that burn coal that actually do constant harm to the environment?

Even with the J-gov't and TEPCO's extremely poor handling of the Fukushima situation. It could have been 10x times worse. Now with what is and has been released radiation wise is nothing compared to the impacts of the constant use of fossil fuel plants that are way older than the nuclear plants.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

Going by Noda,s record he told the protesters what they wanted to hear ie. he would like to phase our N- power in " long term " so that he can claim that he " carefully listens" to all sides , but in the end he is going to side with big business and bureaucracy.So far he has done so on every issue he faced. I wish I was wrong but his record speaks for itself. On the other hand at least he met the protesters , even though it is just a gesture.

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Aizo YureiAug. 22, 2012 - 05:44PM JST

While I don't like nuclear energy, why is it better to use old moth balled plants that burn coal that actually do constant harm to the environment?

Even with the J-gov't and TEPCO's extremely poor handling of the Fukushima situation. It could have been 10x times worse. Now with what is and has been released radiation wise is nothing compared to the impacts of the constant use of fossil fuel plants that are way older than the nuclear plants.

Entirely true, but sad nobody will read it because the mods hate any talk about coal even though anti-nuclear IS pro-coal, regardless of what people may try to spin. Nuclear originally killed off coal, but people's reluctance to allow new (and safer) reactors meant a portion of those coal plants were already restarted, and most others kept in "permanent" standby rather than decommissioning them like they planned to. Sadly those same, old, dirty things are now going to be used and kill upwards of a hundred people per TWh (average 160 deaths per TWh), or about a hiroshima every five years.

-1 ( +9 / -10 )

Most telling about how sincere Noda's is on the question of phasing out of nuclear energy, even his meeting and addressing the protesters, is the fact that such a policy position was considered only after the issue of elections came up. And he, together with the remnants of the DPJ, want to take voters for another ride as they did before, even after their unrepentant renegating the last election's promises caused the split in the party that saw Osawa move out with almost 50 party members. But again, this is Japan.

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If he's sincere about this then he should demand that no more restarts be made or even thought about at all. In the meantime, while he and Edano spout the usual bull more plants continue to build the 'safety measures' in order for restart. Japan has done just fine with only these two reactors, and in all likelihood never needed them at all, but that's the nuclear vision for you, with their hands down the government's pants.

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"Phase out" is a gradual decline on nuclear power.

Which is the only option as it takes decades to decommission a nuclear plant.

As for solar and wind power plants they need the right geography, and they ain't small either.

A single wind-turbine is a massive thing.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

There's a movie (not so good) named Billy Jack goes to Washington that deals with the issue of nuclear reactors and fault lines that shows how one man can stand up and make a difference.

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The represetntaives of the protesters did well considering that they aren't professinal activists. Noda couldn't use his eloquent speech to convince the representatives face-to-face as well as the global (yes, global) audience that his plans are more feasible and realistic.

Government's "public comment" survey collected almost 90,000 (87,000 so I heard) reponses where 90% demanded for the "zero-option." In the public hearing seminars, 50% demanded the same. All in all, the people, through government's various public survey system, have spoken.

Zero-dependency by 2030 is likely to become national policy. Once the policy is set, our great industrialized nation does have the capacity to develop, introduce and operatonalize new renewable sources of energy--while decommissioning the npps--that would create new markets and new even new jobs, as outlined in the governments new ambitious national strategy agenda entitled "Green Growth Strategy".

I personally would like to see the "zero-dependency" goal reached by 2015 at the latest as suggested by Ozawa Ichiro's new party as party policy and allow restarts only in the condition that stringent safety standards and practices are put into place and that the current nuclear regulatory framework is completedly scrapped, tailored specifically for the purpose of "zero-dependency". Who can say Japan CAN'T? Of course we CAN.

WE CAN CAUSE ANOTHER MIRACLE ONLY IF WE ARE WILLING TO.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Let's hope he is sincere about this. Of course we can do without nuclear energy1 What did we do before nuclear energy?!! It can be phased out. Humans have always found a way when something is needed. The world will be a safer place without nuclear energy of any kind.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

BACK TO THE FUTURE - Start up the coal power plants and kill the air !!!!!!

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

There is no need for the Noda ( DSP) Cabinet to think about the medium-and long-term, since they'll be extinct real soon.

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The phasing out of nuclear has already occurred. It worked. So instead of celebrating the end of nuclear in Japan, since over the summer it hasn't been used and there have been no brown outs, the PM can't change and won't listen to his own electorate. What a puppet.

Who can Japanese vote for that isn't in the pocket of nuclear? Very sad to read this

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I love Japan for its sense of design and the quirky engineers that I know there. I am offended that politicians do not believe in their own citizens to come up with solutions, and not necessarily whizbang new technology but just different ways to do things that take up less energy. I have 10000% more confidence in Japan than the PM, and I'm not even Japanese. This really makes me angry. Japan can be awesome, if it gets rid of these oyaji who can't think beyond their own wallets. If Japan can get rid of this logjam of repression so many things will go with it. Keep protesting! It took Noda 5 months to show up, so you're not protesting for him, you're protesting for the Japan that can be, which does not include people like that. Be strong Japan. Good luck

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Of course he told them what they wanted to hear. That's his job! Did anybody really expect him to tell them anything different?

The comment about coal is pretty dumb. I agree that fossil fuels do have a large impact on the environment, but what happened in Fukushima was not very environmentally friendly either, was it? The after effects of which will go on for decades, possibly centuries for some areas. However, even if Japan does 'phase out' nuclear power it will take a minimum of two decades just to use the fuel up so they can be dismantled, but in reality, it will take at least forty years to get rid of the reactors from Japan. Hopefully, Japan will use this time to develop their own renewable energy sources and decrease their dependance on fossil fuels as well.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

My understanding is that the same technology that makes LCD TV's can be converted to make solar panels. If there was a request that 1/3 of all production be devoted to making solar panels then in one way, combined with a mix of other methods, Japan never need go back to nuclear while reducing its vulnerability to energy imports. Energy should be a national security issue. Wouldn't a real leader at least propose the idea? Noda has sold you out when you already won. It's just so sad

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Japan should restart nuclear power plants as soon as possible and should only retire them in 2020 to 2030, when Methane Hydrates deposits surrounding the whole Japan archipelago is expected to be mined and utilized.

Shale gas and LNG may be the energy of choice for the gradual decommissioning of all the nuclear power plants from 2015 to 2025.

Without restarting the nuclear power plant, it will put the last nail in the coffin of the Japanese economy. Japan has the highest cost of electricity in Asia and will soon becomes higher and higher without nuclear power plant or the practical usage of Methane Hydrates.

Korea is producing a lot of energy from nuclear power plant up to this day. Cheaper value of Won plus cheaper electricity PLUS EPA/FTA make cheaper products FTA and EPA between Korea and EU/USA/China will take effect next year. Almost all companies in EU/USA including Toyota, Subaru, Nissan are buying parts from Korea because of cheaper prices yet at par in quality. The coal, bunker fuel, diesel that Japan is buying right now to produce electricity should be diverted to other projects like R&D and public works and infrastructure.

38% of Japan electricity are produced by nuclear. TEPCO (kanto) 50,000 Megawatt daytime requirements. Kansai Denryoku, 35,000 Megawatt daytime requirements. Chubu Denryoku 25,000 Megawatt other 5 regions has a total of 80,000 Megawatt daytime requirements

40% of all Japan energy requirements is about 70,000 megawatt. Think of a coal power plant with a total output of 70,000 Megawatt.... the Antarctic and arctic ice will melt in a jiffy plus million will have lung cancer in a jiffy.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@IT's ME

Energy ssytems have to suit the location. Solar and wind may not be suitable to all areas but geothermal is everywhere. I'm not talking about the large heat generation plants but just within 5 meters. The ground at that depth is generally cooler than the open humid air of Japan. Thus there is your air conditioning. All that can be done would effect local areas and reduce the need to send energy over wire. So it would have a multiplier affect, reducing the need to send energy and reducing the need to make it. This makes the lines last longer and support more people for the same system.

Passive solar and solar thermal can be done in most areas outside of large cities. I'm liking molten salt electrical generation right now as well. Keep it local and community based and there is not need for large installations. Lots of options available outside solar panel and wind.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Congratulations to Japan and Japanese. Your voice have been heard. I am very delighted to hear that you are heading to the right direction.

I would like to be fair here trying to defend Noda's recent decision on restarting Nuke energy. Hey guys, you cannot just snap fingers today and convert every nuke energy to alternatives tomorrow. No miracle and no magic for this big JAPAN INC projects. It takes time and money. Be patient and show your support for this big idea. It will be done. Japan will be totally free from Nuke Energy and you will shine in the world. I can hardly wait for your success. You will excel, go Japan, go Japan!!

If I am allowed to express what's really going in USA for future energy projects, I would like to tell you that Obama is big for wind and solar renewal energy while the other side (The Republican and the Tea Party) are still pushing big oil, coal and nuke energy for the next century.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

"Phasing out" makes much more sense than the nonsensical "stop it now!" mentality that the protesters have been using. Its better to combine the power sources of alternative energy with the nuclear and gradually drop the nuclear as the alternatives create enough power to replace it.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Noda tells protesters he'd like to phase out nuclear power

Is that really what he said? I don't think so, not if "phasing out" means, as is implied here, the end of the use of nuclear power. What he said, was that he'd like to reduce the level of dependency on it.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

And because Noda told the protesters his government was considering its energy policy with a view to “phasing out nuclear power in the mid to long-term, he actually believes that everyone will believe what he says!! To tell you the truth, I no longer believe anything that comes out of Noda`s mouth. If you look at his eyes when he speaks to the public, you will see that his words are filled with only lies. Noda does not know how to tell the truth. Everything that he says is a total lie and it probably because there is someone that is controlling everything that he is doing. When all of the reactors were off line, Japan was doing o.k. with electricity, so why is it that Japan needs to have nuclear reactors to keep the electricity on!! The truth is, Japan does not need nuclear reactors to produce electricity. The real reason that Japan wants to keep the reactors going is because they are doing something with it to make money without thinking about the safety of the people that are living in Japan. Everyone her can disagree with me, but if you were to all look deep into what is really going on here, you will find out that there is more to this story that what Mr. Noda is telling everyone!!!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

If you look at his eyes when he speaks to the public, you will see that his words are filled with only lies. Noda does not know how to tell the truth. Everything that he says is a total lie and it probably because there is someone that is controlling everything that he is doing. When all of the reactors were off line, Japan was doing o.k. with electricity, so why is it that Japan needs to have nuclear reactors to keep the electricity on!! The truth is, Japan does not need nuclear reactors to produce electricity. The real reason that Japan wants to keep the reactors going is because they are doing something with it to make money without thinking about the safety of the people that are living in Japan. Everyone her can disagree with me,

I find Noda to be a very sensible prime minister and if people want to interpret his remarks in certain ways then that is their problem. Other people have spelt out here on these pages why the two reactors that were re-started were re-started. The other 48 have not been re-started for the very reason you claim they don't think about: safety.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

sf2kAug. 22, 2012 - 10:37PM JST

My understanding is that the same technology that makes LCD TV's can be converted to make solar panels. If there was a request that 1/3 of all production be devoted to making solar panels then in one way,

Your understanding is wrong. Almost all commercial solar cells are poly or monocrystalline silicon, which is actually very similar to microchips. Perhaps if you had said devote microchip lines it would be somewhat true, but it is entirely impossible (not even improbable) with LCD TV lines. And that of course is before including the fact that a solar cell needs about 3-5 year's worth of electricity to make, which Japan simply does not have without nuclear power.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

AU_user_since_1998Aug. 22, 2012 - 10:46PM JST

Shale gas and LNG may be the energy of choice for the gradual decommissioning of all the nuclear power plants from 2015 to 2025.

Only if you wish for Japan, and therefore the rest of the world, to ignore the Kyoto Protocol. This is especially true of Hokkaido, where the peak power is for heating rather than cooling and operations. If Kyoto protocol falls apart, a tragedy far worse than a million fukushimas will occur, and Japar cannot go under the protocol without nuclear plants or dooming the country to greece level default risks.

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

sf2kAug. 22, 2012 - 10:48PM JST

Energy ssytems have to suit the location.

You just summed up the reason for nuclear in a sentence. Solar and wind are impossible given Japan's size and the engineering limitations of solar cells/wind farms. Geothermal/ hydro have massive economic and environmental impacts that can easily be compared to a major nuclear disaster. Fossil fuels kill more people per TWh than a hundred TWh from nuclear, and that's before including the effects of global warming. Nuclear is the only technology that is both engineering and economicallyl feasible, as well as environmentally sound and low environmental risk.

No amount of antinuclear nutjobs will change the fact that even with a Chernobyl every year less people will die from nuclear than any fossil fuel used to replace it (including solar because it is made by fossil fuels).

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

@basroil

focus

I wasn't talking about large scale anything, in fact quite the opposite. If you're going to decide to comment on me at least read what I wrote. Otherwise save your time.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Noda is telling people want they want to hear. His popularity is almost in the single digits, so he must be desperate. Noda will be phased out alot quicker than the nuclear powerplants by wide margin, so what does it matter? Reality is Japan does not have too much options and they will rely nuclear plants that will power majority of the energy for a long time.

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sf2kAug. 23, 2012 - 06:09AM JST

I wasn't talking about large scale anything, in fact quite the opposite. If you're going to decide to comment on me at least read what I wrote. Otherwise save your time.

You said a third of the LCD tv production, which means a third of the glass production for LCD TVs, which translates to about 100 million sq feet. That's about 9 million square meters of glass. Hardly anything but large scale.

If you were talking about your molten salt generators, you are aware that they have corrosion issues and the only working tower, in spain, actually produces less energy per square meter of land than simply using solar cells. JAPAN HAS NO LAND FOR SOLAR PRODUCTS ON A SIGNIFICANT SCALE. Nuclear is by far the most compact of the safer power generation systems, no other way around it because it doesn't matter where the energy is produced, just how much is.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Some people are just not getting the message. In this country, there's no future for nuclear energy. We have moved from a position of 50% by 2050, to 0% by 2030.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Some people are just not getting the facts straight. Japan has no future without nuclear energy. We have doubled our imports of fuel and tripled spending on electrical production fuel. The country will be bankrupted as all it's money goes to other countries just for energy requirements.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

It's silly to trade the possibility to get cancer for getting cancer. Coal plants and are going to kill the environment and if you think how they handle nuclear plants is bad.. HA!

Zichi "In this country, there's no future for nuclear energy.

You mean, "there's no future."

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Aizo YureiAug. 23, 2012 - 03:46PM JST

It's silly to trade the possibility to get cancer for getting cancer. Coal plants and are going to kill the environment and if you think how they handle nuclear plants is bad..

People are just too dull to understand that they can either have coal+oil or nuclear, and that coal kills an average of 160 people per TWh while oil is about 36. Even if it was "clean coal", we would still get about 15 deaths per TWh compared to a maximum of 0.25 (likely much smaller) deaths per TWh even including Fukushima (0.04 without).

But even closer to home than those, one single lifestyle choice can make both of those negligible.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

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