Category Archives: Renewable Energy

Do Not Shift Nuclear Power Plant Related Costs to Our Electricity Bills

The Japanese government is planning to charge all electricity consumers with the cost of the nuclear power plants that the power companies with nuclear power plants should primarily shoulder. Consumers Union of Japan is requesting the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry to withdraw the introduction of the new system.

We are also starting a campaign to collect signatures to support our message: “Please do not shift the costs related to the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident to our electricity bills.” Please cooperate and spread the word among friends and acquaintances. You can download the pdf file with the signature campaign appeal form here (J). The government’s plan seems to be to submit this bill during the ordinary session of the Parliament, so the deadline for Consumers Union of Japan’s signature campaign is January 31, 2017.

 

Withdraw the proposed new system to shift nuclear power plant related costs to our electricity bills

On December 22, 2016, Consumers Union of Japan sent a letter to Hiroshige Seko, the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry. We pointed out that the new system proposed by the government would spread the financial burden of nuclear accident compensation and reactor decommissioning at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant to new electricity suppliers, who would likely pass on their share of these costs to their customers. The government now estimates the total cost for reactor decommissioning plus Fukushima nuclear disaster compensation at some 8.3 trillion yen.

We oppose this proposal because energy problems are important issues that concerns our lives deeply. It is unacceptable that the Parliament will not properly deliberate Japan’s future energy plan in a democratic way, instead sticking to nuclear power generation. The proposal to relieve the current energy power companies of their responsibility goes against all common sense. We urge the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry to not include nuclear power in the base load power supply, and instead focus on renewable and sustainable energy sources.

Reform of the Power System

Consumers Union of Japan and concerned citizens and experts formed a committee in September 2013 to put forward proposals for a reform of Japan’s energy system. This network took the opportunity to make a detailed submission to the government in January 2014. This is a brief summary of the Japanese text, which is available in full on the website of Consumers Union of Japan.

We must learn from the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear plant, and formulate a master plan which advances energy conversion. The government should listen to the opinion of citizens and reflect the public view when going forward with its plans.

A stable energy supply must be based on a new energy law which gives citizen the right to choose energy that is harmonious, sustainable and safe. Moreover, citizens should be given opportunity to participate in the policy making process. The new law should enable the promotion of affordable renewable energy, and phase out nuclear power and fossil fuels.

It is our opinion that the government should formulate a master plan that is independent of nuclear power. We have the following proposals for how the country can withdraw from nuclear power generation and the nuclear fuel cycle policy. It is particularly important to immediately stop the current nuclear fuel cycle policy.

Dependence on fossil fuel should be reduced and renewable energy should be promoted through numerical targets and a policy for increased efficiency. Energy saving measures should also be promoted further.

We want more discussion about the energy policy for example through public hearings so that the opinions of citizens can be heard. Moreover, we are of the opinion that not only the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and the electricity companies should be in charge of electric power system reform, but also other agencies that better reflect the citizens, such as the Consumer Affairs Agency. A special committee representing the energy demand side should be set up that includes consumer representatives, experts on seismology and other related disciplines. It is also necessary to ensure the disclosure of each committee member’s financial relationship to the electricity producers.

As a result of the Fukushima disaster, on the national level, the new energy policy needs to be a top priority. We need to build a new electric power system that allows for the decommissioning of all nuclear power plants.

70% of the population is now demanding a nuclear power-free society. People do not believe it is safe. We are concerned that the government is not taking the Fukushima disaster seriously, blaming it on the tsunami only, and taking no note of expert reports that have pointed out structural flaws, the threat of terrorism as well as seismological issues relevant to all nuclear plants in Japan.

Stop all new construction of nuclear power plants, including reprocessing plants and fast breeder reactors. Start decommissioning all nuclear power plants around the country. We do not accept any restarts of the nuclear power plants and note that it is unacceptable that there is still no proposal for the final disposal of nuclear waste.

The government’s proposals for a reform of Japan’s energy system is vague on renewable energy, only mentioning that the introduction of renewable energy will be accelerated as much as possible within three years from now. But there are no mid- or long-term numerical targets and no details about how this will happen. This is completely insufficient as a plan for encouraging the related industry. Photovoltaic generation and storage batteries for home owners are examples of areas where numerical targets are necessary. Increased energy efficiency and power saving measures also need to be carefully considered and encouraged.

Citizens Committee for Power System Reform

Koga Masako
Mashimo Toshiki
Oda Asako
Fukasawa Yoko

Energy Reform Symposium

What Will Happen With The Electric Utility Law Revision?
June 20, 2013 Symposium

Japan is debating the future of its electric power system. A special committee at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry made recommendations for reform in February, 2013, and a bill to revise parts of the Electric Utility Law was submitted to the Parliament after a Cabinet decision in April. However, there is concern that the bill has watered down many of the proposals. It is doubtful if the bill can be enacted during the current session of the Parliament and we sense dark clouds gathering over the anticipated reform, which had just started to look promising.

After the earthquake and tsunami disaster on March 11, 2011 we face a situation where parts of the country have been so contaminated with dangerous radioactivity due to the meltdown at the nuclear reactors at Fukushima Daiichi that it is impossible for people to live there. Society rapidly needs to be converted into relying on a wide range of power sources including wind, solar, cogeneration, etc., in addition to large-scale expansion of energy-saving efforts. This is the time for structural reform of the electric power system, and we need to move forward on creating a realistic work schedule to make this happen.

Civil society supports the Electric Utility Law revision. In this symposium, we will debate electric power reform and discuss its merits for consumers, as well as learn about the design of the electricity market. We will also hear from energy consultant Yamada Hikaru about the current situation in Europe and North America.

Organizers: e-Shift (Association for Nuclear Power Phase-out and New Energy Policies) / Consumers Union of Japan / Electric Power Reform Project

Date: June 20, 2013 (17:00-19:30)
Place: House of Representatives Multipurpose Hall, Tokyo (衆議院第二議員会館)
Subway: Nagatacho or Kokkaigijidoumae st.
Entrance: 500 Yen

(Japanese only)

About e-Shift

Continue reading Energy Reform Symposium

Peace Boat Anti-Nuclear Campaign In Europe

Katsutaka Idogawa, former Mayor of Futaba Town, the site of the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant, will travel to France, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, and Switzerland. He will be reaching out to municipal leaders and citizen groups about the ongoing situation in Fukushima.

Seven days after the disasters of March 11, 2011, Idogawa temporarily evacuated town residents 45 kilometers away to Kawamata City. After witnessing ashes floating down from the sky, fallout from the explosion at reactor no. 1, and measuring radiation levels on his dosimeter, he came to the conclusion that the only way for the people of Futaba to be safe would be to be as far as possible. Without waiting governmental advice, he put the safety of the people first and arranged for the town to be relocated to Saitama prefecture.

On May 12 he will meet with citizen groups at Penly Nuclear Power Plant in Le Havre, France on the English Channel where fires in April 2012 led to radioactive leakage. From May 13-15, he will participate in an international conference aboard Peace Boat on its way to Stockholm.

Participants include:

Alain Correa (STOP EPR Network, France)
Olivier Florens (Europe Ecology – The Greens)
Iida Tetsunari (Director, Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies)
Lena Lindahl (Sustainable Sweden Association)
Andrey Ozharovskiy (Nuclear expert with Bellona working to prevent the construction of a plant by Hitachi in Lithuania)
Sato Kenta (“Fukushima Conference”, from Iitate Village)
Yoshioka Tatsuya (Co-founder and Director of Peace Boat)

After meeting with experts, politicians and citizens working on nuclear issues at an event organized by ICAN Sweden, IPPNW Sweden, and the Sustainable Sweden Association on the 16th, he will travel to the location of planned nuclear power plant at Pyhäjoki, Finland to meet with the mayor and citizens on 17-18. May 19-22 he will visit Helsinki and Latvia, making his way to the Middelgrunden Wind Farm in Copenhagen for May 24-25. He will end his tour with a presentations to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland.

For more information, please contact:
Meri Joyce, Peace Boat International Coordinator
Email: meri@peaceboat.gr.jp

(Note: Peace Boat is a Japanese NGO/NPO that made its first journey in 1983. For details about the current trip, click here. Read more about Peace Boat in English here!)

11,500 Participants In Yokohama Want Japan To Change Its Thinking About Nuclear Power

Change is needed for Japan to stop relying on nuclear power

The large Yokohama conference on January 14-15 for a nuclear power free world was a very well organized two day event with hundreds of lectures by speakers from Japan and abroad. I was impressed by the number of different groups and NPOs that came together to share information and experiences, 10 month after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, and the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant.

Held at the Pacifico Yokohama by the harbour, the event was an opportunity to think about energy issues. German MEP Rebecca Harms noted that Japan is now running its huge cities and industries on only 6 nuclear reactors out of 54. She pointed out that Germany decided to phase out nuclear power after the conservative government lost an important local election directly after March 11, 2011. Clearly angry after having just visited Fukushima, she said, “With the majority of public opinion in Japan now standing solidly against nuclear power, why the hell would Japan ever consider promoting it again?”

At one of the workshops, Swedish expert Goran Bryntse, PhD, who has led the anti-nuclear movement for a long time, talked about how citizens can change the energy policy. First of all, he noted, energy efficiency is the best and cheapest alternative to nuclear power. For example, a country can save up to one third of its energy consumption through heatpumps, more efficient engines, LED lights, and new whitegoods such as the latest refrigerators.

In the case of Sweden, these measures would be able to replace 4 nuclear reactors, according to Dr Bryntse. Additionally, 6 more nuclear reactors can be replaced by wind power (3), biomass and co-generation (2), and solar energy (1). Thus, all of Sweden’s current 10 nuclear reactors can easily be phased out. Of course this is a lesson that Japan should also take note of.

At another talk session there was a panel discussion about creating a “New Japan.” There is now a debate about whether to stop nuclear power immediately, or to phase it out gradually, but all of the panelists agreed that what Japan needs is clean and sustainable energy. For this shift to happen, mass media needs to change and become more accountable. The lack of democratic policies is also regrettable. There is some hope that Japan’s new Green Party can put forward its first candidates in 2013. I was also impressed that people are now collecting signatures for a referendum on nuclear power.

I talked to Mr. Hideyuki Ban from Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center who was deeply moved by the large turnout. He was also glad so many foreign guests were able to attend. There were many peace groups and groups representing the hibakusha from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and many old-timers who have campaigned even back when campaigning was not very popular in Japan. There were new groups of people who have been forced to deal with the unthinkable: mothers in Fukushima, worried about their kids, and lawyers trying to do the right thing to support the citizens – and shareholders – of TEPCO.

The Yokohama Declaration (pdf) that was adopted sounds like something a lot of people may want to read and sign. The declaration asked for support for the people in Fukushima, and said Japanese nuclear power plants that are currently idled should not be restarted.

Peace Boat and the other NGOs that made this event happen should all be applauded for their organizing skills. I met a lot of young people who attended both days. The friendly staff and genki volunteers made every effort to guide everyone to the right venue, offering simultaneous interpretation to anyone who asked for it. The organizers had hoped for a nice round 10,000 to attend, so this event was a huge success.

Martin Frid, Consumers Union of Japan