Tag Archives: Energy

Opinions on the Draft Basic Energy Plan

Consumers Union of Japan submitted the following opinions on 1 October 2021, in response to the Japanese Government Agency for Natural Resources and Energy’s call for opinions on the formulation of the Sixth Basic Energy Plan.

Opinions on the Draft Basic Energy Plan

Please change “(6) Restructuring of nuclear power policy” in “(5) Policy responses toward 2030 with a view to 2050” to “(6) Transformation of nuclear power policy” and state “Immediately stop restarted nuclear power plants and realize zero nuclear power plants.

The accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant has completely destroyed what has become known as the “safety myth” of nuclear power. It also revealed that the accident was a “man-made disaster” caused by the fact that TEPCO’s management knew in advance about the danger of tsunami, but neglected to address it.

In fact, everyone is well aware of the dangers of nuclear power plants, including local residents, citizens who call for zero nuclear power plants, and even residents of the so-called “nuclear village.” Even if a major accident does not occur, it is hard to argue that nuclear power plants are economically viable when decommissioning and other expenses are factored in.

Looking back at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant accident, the Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident, and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident, it is clear that the world has come to recognize that we cannot coexist with nuclear power plants, especially in Japan, a country of frequent earthquakes.

The Sixth Basic Energy Plan has as its key theme to show the path of energy policy toward the realization of carbon neutrality in 2050.

As climate change is occurring around the world, efforts to create a decarbonized society are accelerating, and more than 120 countries, including Japan, have already declared zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Renewable energy sources account for 70-80% of the electricity generated in Austria, Denmark, and Sweden, and more than 40% in Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

On the other hand, in France, where the percentage of nuclear power plants is high, it is only over 20%. As for Japan, where the percentage is still around 18%, it is clear that Japan is lagging behind, even though solar power generation has been increased in recent years.

For example, in Germany, which relied on nuclear power for nearly 30% of its electricity in 2000, and renewable energy accounted for only 5-6% of its electricity. It has since reached the 40% level and has decided to go “zero nuclear” by 2022.

Japan also had no nuclear power plants immediately after the Fukushima nuclear accident, so it has already proven that it can sufficiently meet its electricity demand without relying on the restart of nuclear power plants. It is appropriate to follow the example of European countries and raise the renewable energy target for 2030 to 36-38%, and achieve zero nuclear power plants.

In 2016, the total deregulation of electricity retailing led to a shift from the 10 major power companies to new municipal power companies and small local power companies. By decentralizing and bottoming up the energy system, this movement will lead to the revitalization of local communities by establishing “lifestyles suited to one’s size” (local economic zones) through local production for local consumption. In order to achieve this, it is desirable to have the participation of residents, and the key points are involvement and participation in the decision-making system politically (secured by ordinances, etc.) and involvement in the business as economic participation (investment, etc.).

Energy-saving lighting and heating/cooling in offices and houses, building insulation, switching to electric vehicles, using public transportation and bicycles in urban areas, are among the efforts needed to make it possible to achieve 100% renewable energy for local low-voltage electricity in the near future.

At the prefectural level, Akita Prefecture, with its large amount of hydroelectric power generation, Kagoshima, Gunma, and Miyazaki Prefectures, with their large amount of solar power generation, and Oita Prefecture, with its large amount of geothermal power generation, have already achieved about 50% self-sufficiency in electricity from renewable energy sources.

By municipality, it is said that more than 100 municipalities in Japan have a regional energy self-sufficiency rate of more than 100%.

While it is true that the formation of regional economic zones based on local production for local consumption faces various challenges, the power shift is becoming more widespread in Japan through the various efforts of each region.

Thanks to the power of these regions, the shift away from nuclear power and toward renewable energy is steadily progressing in Japan, albeit belatedly.

The draft of the Basic Energy Plan assumes dependence on nuclear power plants, stating, “Nuclear power plants will be used on the necessary scale in a sustainable manner. Consumers Union of Japan notes that the draft of the Sixth Basic Energy Plan assumes that Japan will depend on nuclear power plants, but such reasoning will probably be overcome by reality sooner or later.

Japan Resources – No 166

Please click here CUJ-JR-166 for the latest issue of Consumer Union of Japan’s English newsletter, Japan Resources (pdf). The theme this time is nuclear energy and the many problems facing this country and all of us as energy consumers.

We hope you will continue to stay updated with CUJ’s activities and news on our English website, and support our campaigns!

Contents:

From the Editors: Thinking about Nuclear Energy

Japan on the Wrong Track with its Export of Nuclear Plants

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

Withdraw the Proposed New System to Shift Nuclear Power Plant Related Costs to Our Electricity Bills

Smart Meters: Saying No, and Yes, You Can Switch Back to an Analogue Meter

Newsflash:

The Ecologist: The Collapse of Toshiba

 

Smart Meters: Saying No, and Yes, You Can Switch Back to an Analog Meter

This is a summary of a series of articles in our monthly Japanese newsletter, Shouhisha Report, about so-called smart meters, or digital meters that use radio frequencies and electromagnetic radiation to transmit information about your home electricity use. They replace the analog meters that have to be checked by staff visiting your home. There is concern about privacy, as well as health risks, in addition to the huge cost of changing meters. In Japanese, smart meters are usually abbreviated as “sumame” and we want to clarify your rights as consumers.

The current problem is that power companies like Tepco or Kansai Electric Power are “demanding” customers to get new smart meters installed. This happens at the same time as Japan’s electricity market has been deregulated. In some cases, when customers have switched power company, the new provider has installed a smart meter without providing much information. In one such case, a CUJ member contacted us, explaining that the new provider had simply said: “Changing to a smart meter is necessary.” It later reversed its position, and admitted that this was not the case.

A staff member at our CUJ office had the same experience, and decided to dig a little further. When contacting the customer support center at Tepco, they replied in the same way: “You have to change to a smart meter.” This, however, is not true. The issue came up for debate in the budget committee of Japan’s Parliament in March, 2016, confirming that as far as contracts are concerned, smart meters are not indispensable.

The power companies have more tricks up their sleeves. Another lie is when they claim: “Analog meters are no longer manufactured, so we don’t have them in stock.” But according to experts like Taro Amishiro, author of books about electromagnetic radiation problems who is concerned about smart meters, most analog meters will work for much longer than 10 years, and don’t need to be exchanged so often. Old analog meters can also be reused.

It took our CUJ staff member several rounds of tough negotiations with Tepco’s call center to switch back to an analog meter, showing that it can be done. Another CUJ member told us that he had successfully gotten Chubu Electric Power agree to make the switch back.

The privacy concern is connected to how smart meters store data about your electricity consumption. The details are recorded by the digital device every 30 minutes. This can give power companies a very clear picture of your daily life, including when you switch on your TV or open your fridge. Okubo Sadatoshi, an expert on electromagnetic radiation and radio wave health problems, notes that even if the power company agrees to disable the transmission from your smart meter, the data is still stored digitally in the device. In other words, it can still be accessed and the problem of invasion of privacy remains.

Doorstep visitors or phone calls claiming they want to install a smart meter may be someone trying to scam you, so don’t fall for their sales talk. Says Michiyo Koketsu, CUJ: “Please pay attention to any information you get from your current power company as they roll out the switch to smart meters. You have the right to say no, and it is up to you to tell them that you prefer to keep your analog meter. If they customer call center gives you a hard time, just stand your ground. They can’t force you to switch to a smart meter, and you have the right to demand to switch back to an analog meter, if you so wish.”

Read more:

Tepco to hold bids for 17 mln smart metres

Can Japan’s Energy Reforms Make Renewable Energy Growth Smarter?

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