Face Palm: Japan Power Industry Bill Fail

Oh, the irony. We had a perfectly good opportunity to get a breakup of the electricity company monopoly today, and the Upper House of the Japanese Parliament manages to screw it up on a technicality. Makes you think there are no coincidences, but nevertheless. There is still a chance later this year, and this is important.

OK, so here are some links, in case you are interested. And you should be, because this is how we can wean this blessed country* away from singular relying on nuclear power. And yes, there are alternatives, if we, the consumers, get a chance to choose. And if this bill passes, we will be in a better position to do so (And yes, I know there is a lot of hydro power too in Japan, which is a perfectly good renewable energy resource, but it is not how we are going to solve the energy crisis if we ask for nuclear power plants to be stopped).

So here are the links:

1) NHK World: Bill to revise electricity business scrapped

(Not exactly true, since it will come back in the next Parliamentary session, but that is how NHK does news to you)

Legislation designed to reform Japan's electricity supply system, failed to receive a vote in the Upper House on Wednesday, before the end of the Diet session. The bill was designed to separate power generation and transmission sections of power companies. It aimed to change the current system following the 2011 earthquake. Tokyo Electric Power Company experienced rolling blackouts that inconvenienced industries and people's daily lives.
The new legislation would fully liberalize electricity retailing within three years, allowing both companies and private homes to freely choose power suppliers. The bill also called for the separation of power generation and transmission businesses in about five to seven years time.

The ruling Liberal Democratic and New Komeito parties, together with the opposition Democratic Party, had agreed to enact the bill during the Diet session.

The bill was approved by the Lower House plenary session on June 13th and was sent to the Upper House.

However, on Wednesday the Upper House passed a censure motion against Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and the Diet was adjourned before the bill in question was deliberated for vote taking in the Upper House. The bill has thus been scrapped this time, but the government plans to submit it again to the extraordinary Diet session later this year.

2) Bloomberg: Japan Power Industry Bill Gets First Nod to Break Up Monopolies

(That was back in June 12, when the bill passed the Lower House so make what you can of it)

The first phase of a proposal to revamp Japan’s 16 trillion yen ($166 billion) electricity industry and spur competitition by making utilities split power generation and distribution passed a lower house committee. The plan, which calls for the creation of a new body around 2015 to coordinate power supply and demand, was approved today in a meeting of the lower house’s economy and industry committee broadcast on the Internet. 


Since the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, the public has demanded more independent oversight of the utilities as the disaster showed Tokyo Electric Power Co. ignored warnings of earthquake and tsunami risk. That followed revelations the power producers falsified maintenance reports for decades. 

Japan’s cabinet, led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, in April approved the reform plans. Parts two and three of the effort include fully liberalizing the nation’s electricity retail business by 2016 and spinning off utilities’ transmission and distribution operations between 2018 and 2020.

The 10 regional utilities monopolize Japan’s electricity business, owning more than 70 percent of generation capacity and controlling distribution and transmission, the trade and industry ministry said in a report in November


Here is what we thought over at Consumers Union of Japan:

3) CUJ: Energy Reform 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

About Genpatsu Zeronomics

原発ゼロノミクス4) We are a network of anti-nuclear groups in Japan and now campaigning for “Genpatsu Zeronomics (Nuclear-free economics).” In Japanese, “genpatsu” means a nuclear power plant, and “zeronomics” is a coined word that combines “zero” and “economics.” Genpatsu zeronomics therefore refers to an economic policy that does not depend on nuclear power.
In Japan, Prime Minister Abe has named “Abenomics” his economic plan to pull Japan’s economy out of two decades of deflation and recession.
As part of Abenomics, the Japanese government is now trying to restart nuclear reactors because it believes that nuclear power is indispensable for Japan’s economic growth. We are absolutely against this government policy. The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident has exposed that nuclear power is in fact bad for the economy, and that we must confront economic bads that Japan’s pro-nuclear policy has produced. Instead of relying on nuclear power, we propose to stimulate Japan’s economy by promoting renewable-energy and energy-saving technologies and creating jobs in this new, green industry.
The goal of our campaign is to collect more than 100,000 signatures of endorsement for Genpatsu Zeronomics and submit them to Japan’s prime minister. We are seeking signatures of endorsement from all over the world. 


Pandabonium said…
A discussion that needs to be taking place. If we cannot offer specifics and gain support for what needs to be done the "market" will act with its infamous "invisible hand", which if faced with an end to nuclear power will choose coal and other fossil fuels to keep business as usual humming. That also must be stopped.

IMO there is no pain free way to cut back. People will want to keep wasting energy as long as the perceived pain is far in the future. We must find a way to make cutting back on energy use - without technological "solutions" seen as positive in its own right. That means rejecting a lot of the modern lifestyle for the disaster that it truly is. Not an easy sell, but an urgent one.

Martin J Frid said…
Well, the way to give us a choice to say, support a utility company that only does solar, and we pay our monthly bills to that company (not TEPCO) is to get this legislation. If people have no choice, then what kind of country are we living in...? I thought this bill was the best thing to happen to Japan. It would set the stage for entrepreneurs with good ideas, small at first of course, but we could support that and create a new situation.

This would be the perfect bill for people who are probably already doing the setsuden and saving energy and wanting to not pay money to TEPCO.

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