We Protest Against the Kishida Administration’s Passage of the GX Bill to Promote Nuclear Power
6 June 2023
On 31 May 2023, the Green Transformation (GX) Decarbonization Power Source Bill, which will allow nuclear power plants to operate for more than 60 years, was passed and enacted in Tokyo, Japan. This happened at a plenary session of the House of Councillors by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito, as well as Isshin no Kai, and others. This legislation bundles together five bills amending the Basic Act on Nuclear Energy, the Nuclear Reactor Regulation Act, the Electricity Business Act, the Reprocessing Act, and the Renewable Energy Special Measures Act.
In July 2022, the Kishida administration established the GX Executive Council with the aim of realizing a decarbonized society, and in response to the Basic Policy for Realization of GX – Roadmap for the Next 10 Years released by the Council in December, the GX decarbonization bill was submitted to the Diet in February 2023 to legislate the basic policy.
In reality, the bill is not about a green transformation at all. It is an attempt to force a major change in the existing policy of reducing dependence on nuclear power as much as possible by restarting nuclear power plants, building new nuclear power plants, extending the operation period of aging nuclear power plants, and strengthening support for the nuclear power industry.
Consumers Union of Japan is strongly opposed to this legislation.
After the Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011, it became clear to everyone that we cannot coexist with nuclear power plants. With the opinions of the overwhelming majority of citizens and residents as a backdrop, the Innovative Energy and Environment Policy was formulated under the Democratic Party of Japan administration to realize a society that does not depend on nuclear power plants at an early stage, which stated that “no new nuclear power plants will be built” and “the maximum operating period of nuclear power plants will be 60 years. On the surface, the Abe and Kan administrations have followed this policy.
However, the Kishida administration, after a short and formal deliberation and study that lasted only six months or so, abandoned the previous policy and took a sharp turn in the direction of bailing out the declining, so-called Nuclear Power Village, a money-laden combination of industry, academia, and government.
We must never forget the fact that a huge number of residents suddenly lost their hometowns as a consequence of the Fukushima nuclear accident, and many are still forced to live in painful evacuation shelters and are unable to return to their hometowns. The revision of the law is a disregard for the lessons learned from the accident.
In Germany, nuclear power plant phase-out was achieved in April this year, without being distracted by the energy crisis caused by Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.
Consumer Union of Japan strongly protests the Kishida administration’s shift in nuclear power policy. We also express our determination to move forward together with consumers, citizens, and many others toward the early realization of a nuclear power free society.
The GX Basic Policy is to promote, in the name of carbon neutrality, the use of nuclear power, hydrogen and ammonia co-firing with fossil fuels, and carbon capture and storage (CCS). It has been criticized by NGOs like Kiko Network as “prolonging the life of coal-fired power generation, hindering the promotion of necessary climate change measures such as the buildup of renewable energy, and eventually decreasing the global competitiveness of Japanese industries while increasing the burden on citizens through rising energy costs”. Co-firing hydrogen and ammonia with thermal power plants has only a minor effect on CO2 emission reductions, and CCS is far away from practical use. Rather, these technologies will fix large amounts of long-term CO2 emissions by extending the life of fossil fuel thermal power plants. The roadmap under this policy is far from the reductions required to achieve the 1.5°C target.