Japan Leading The Way Away From Nuclear?

Strange to observe what is happening in the world. Italy has no nuclear reactors, having abandoned the idea from the start. Germany quickly responded to the call of the general public in the spring of 2011, and decided to stop investing in new nuclear plants, thus basically and fundamentally changing its energy future. Japan - after the Fukushima disaster with three meltdowns and massive hydrogen explosions.

Remember at Three Mile Island in Harrisburg, US, they thought it might happen, but it didn't... Imagine if it had? Well, Japan went through three such explosions, all shown live here on television, back in March 2011, just two years ago.

Then, in 2012, for two months, all of Japan's 50 or so remaining nuclear reactors went offline. Then, the Oi reactors north of Osaka were restarted, and there were amazing demonstrations and protests, unlike anything you had ever seen in this country.

Now, it turns out that possibly no reactors will be restarted in Japan during 2013, according to a survey by Kyodo and reliable sources.

None of Japan's nuclear power plants that have been idled since the nuclear crisis triggered by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami are likely to restart operations within the year as safety checks under new standards are not expected to be completed, a Kyodo news agency survey of utilities showed Sunday.

In addition to that news, note that the Oi reactors will be shut down later in 2013 for regular maintenance. New, more strict safety rules will also enter into force in 2013. The Ikata nuclear plant in Ehime, Shikoku, and two reactors in Kyushu could be restarted "in July if inspections by the Nuclear Regulation Authority are completed swiftly." Not likely to happen. That means, Japan will be joining Germany and Italy (and others) in leading the way away from nuclear power, with zero reactors online.

Meanwhile, Taiwan is having trouble deciding what to do with its nuclear waste. The small island has/had a dodgy deal with North Korea (of all places) for disposal of its dangerous waste. Back in 1997, Taiwan thought it could pay Pyongyang to get rid of some of its waste, according to New York Times.

NYT: North Korea Agrees to Take Taiwan Atom Waste for Cash

Bad idea. On March 4, 2013, some 16 years later, North Korea is suddenly suing Taiwan for breach of contract. LOL. Chosun Ilbo, a South Korean newspaper that I have no reason not to quote, has more details:

Chosun Ilbo: N.Korea Sues Taiwan Over Nuclear Waste Disposal Deal

North Korea has belatedly sued a Taiwanese power company for US$10.1 million for an unfulfilled contract signed 16 years ago to dump nuclear waste in the North, the Taipei Times reported on Sunday.

The daily said North Korea signed a contract with state-owned Taiwan Power Co. in January 1997 to dispose of 60,000 barrels of low-level radioactive waste from the company in an abandoned coal mine in Pyongsan, North Hwanghae Province. But Taipower reneged on the deal under international pressure. North Korea is now suing for the cost of building the disposal site.

Also, the Taiwan government has recently decided to hold a referendum on the yes or no to a new nuclear plant in Gongliao, which terrific expat blogger Michael Turton calls "the dumbest public infrastructure project in Taiwan history."

It even made the international news (AP). After noting that the government had agreed to the referendum, the Taipei Times reported:
According to the plan, a referendum on halting construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant will be initiated by the KMT caucus tabling a motion next month in the legislature, KMT caucus whip Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆) said.

Lai said the plebiscite could be held in August as the Referendum Act (公民投票法) stipulates that a referendum must be held no sooner than one month and no later than six months after its proposal.

If the completion of the plant failed to win approval, there was the risk of huge compensation payouts for breach of contract, higher electricity costs, power shortages and even an adverse effect on economic growth, Jiang said.
Hahaha. The KMT government is already hard into fear mongering, the same tired nonsense. The government claimed twenty years ago that power shortages and economic growth effects would occur if the plant were not built, and it has never varied from that line. Obviously these things never  happened. It was lies at the beginning, and it is still lies. There are plenty of other ways Taiwan can generate power. Not to mention reduce demand through improved conservation...

Frozen Garlic has a long, excellent post on many of the issues. First, I think many of us are as shocked as he is that the KMT would submit a major project to the overall review of the public when it knows that in any fair referendum the Party position in favor of nuclear power will be defeated. In these two paragraphs he strikes to the heart of the matter:
Why is the KMT so politically committed to nuclear power? Most importantly, they have committed enormous piles of money to this project over the past two decades. They cannot simply walk away with nothing to show for it. The DPP would beat over the head relentlessly for years and years. How many schools, hospitals, roads, public housing, MRT lines, or flower festivals were sacrificed for 4NPP?

South Korea, too, has had a range of issues with its old reactors. There is a strong anti-nuclear movement in South Korea. As far as I can ascertain, the South Koreans also do not know/have no plan/are lying to the public/about what to do about nuclear waste from South Korean nuclear reactors. “We want a nuclear-free peaceful world” say South Korea’s women.

We South Korean women call these participants to give us hope by supporting our stance toward a nuclear-free world.
1. Nuclear security must start with the elimination of nuclear weapons.
At the 2010 Washington Nuclear Security Summit, leaders focused on the security of nuclear materials, but did not discuss the reduction or elimination of nuclear weapons or reactors, which should be the core issues of any nuclear talks. Consequently, participating 5 nuclear-weapon states (NWS) were criticized for imposing non-proliferation and nuclear security regulations on non-NWS, while NWS themselves did not carry out their responsibility of eliminating nuclear weapons. Although non-NPT nuclear weapon states (Israel, India and Pakistan) participated in the 2010 Summit, Iran (a member of the NPT) and North Korea (seceded from the NPT) were not invited. The world witnessed the double standards of the international community during the 2010 Summit, where discrimination was seen between NWS and non-NWS and even within the nuclear weapon countries.

We South Korean women call all nuclear weapon countries including the US, Russia, the UK, China, France, Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea to eliminate their nuclear weapons and to show consistency in principle and position on these weapons at the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit. We believe this is the only way that nuclear security is possible.

2. Nuclear power generators must be phased out and their export must be suspended.
The South Korean government has announced that the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit will promote nuclear energy safety and its peaceful use, and that the Nuclear Industry Summit, preceding the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit, will provide a place to formulate measures for safe use of nuclear power. However, we believe that the government sees the Summit as an opportunity to establish nuclear power as the next generation’s power source, despite the risks demonstrated by the Fukushima disaster.

The Summit steering committee must understand that many countries around the world are reconsidering their nuclear power generation policy after the Fukushima disaster. The Summit participants must accept the collapse of the nuclear safety myth, agree the policy to abolish nuclear reactors, suspend nuclear reactor exports and eliminate plans for new reactor construction.

3. To build a nuclear-free world, governments must cooperate with the women and civil society.
A nuclear-free world is possible only when governments around the world walk in step with their citizens, including women. The South Korean government has announced that it will consult its people in preparation for the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit. So far, however, the government has cooperated only with those from industry, academia and social organizations which support nuclear energy. The South Korean government must listen to the voices of all those in society who are interested in a nuclear-free world. We call the government to build a mechanism for cooperation with the women and civil society on peace-related issues, including nuclear issues, as called for by the UN Security Council’s Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.

Furthermore, in preparation for the Summit, we call the international community to take a more thoughtful approach to North Korean nuclear issues, which stem from the Cold War regime still prevailing in Northeast Asia. Resolution of these issues is closely tied to the establishment of a peaceful regime on the Korean Peninsula and the normalization of U.S.-North Korean relations. It is impossible to realize peace on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia without solving North Korean nuclear issues.
Proactive negotiations by the six-party nations, including the U.S., are needed to solve these issues. We Korean women believe that it is crucial to hold the six-party talks as soon as possible.

In order to achieve peaceful coexistence of all living things, we must stop producing nuclear materials and begin using renewable energy. By doing so, we can realize a nuclear-free world and resolve the contradiction of the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit, which claims to seek solutions to nuclear terror even as nuclear materials continue to be produced. We Korean women, in solidarity with women around the world, call for new forms of cooperation with governments in order to realize a nuclear-free world in the near future.
This formal statement was released officially by twenty-two women’s organizations in South Korea on January 13, 2012.

Authors of this release include the Organizing Committee of the Northeast Asian Women’s Peace Conference, Korean Women’s Association United, Women Making Peace, The Women’s Committee of the Korean Council for Reconciliation and Cooperation, Kyunggi Women’s Association United, Korea Church Women United, Korea Differently Abled Women United, Jeju Association for Women’s Rights, Daegu Women’s Association, Daegu Kyungbuk’s Women’s Association United, Korea Women Migrants’ Human Rights Center, Pohang Women’s Association, Korea Women Workers Association, Daejeon Women’s Association for Peace, Korea Women’s Political Solidarity, Korean Association of Women Theologians, Gwanggju Jonnam Women’s Association United, Korean Association of Christian Women for Women Minjung, Jeju Women’s Association, Korea Women’s Studies Institute, Cheonan Women’s Association, Korean Womenlink (a total 22 women’s organizations in South Korea).
©2012 WNN – Women News Network

As of September 2012, Japanese people support the zero option on nuclear power, and the Japanese government announced a dramatic change of direction promising to make Japan nuclear-free by the 2030s. There will be no new construction of nuclear power plants, a 40-year lifetime limit on existing nuclear plants, and any further nuclear plant restarts will need to meet tough safety standards of the new independent regulatory authority, Nuclear Regulation Authority. The new approach to meeting energy needs will also involve investing $500 billion over 20 years to commercialize the use of renewable energy sources such as wind power and solar power.

This is also relevant (note that anti-nuclear protests started in Japan already in the early 1950s):

A protest march from AldermastonHiroshima survivors from Japan participated in the very first protests in Europe, at Aldermaston March in 1958. BBC has more: 

Since 1958, when 10,000 people marched from London to Aldermaston in protest at Britain's first hydrogen bomb tests, AWE Aldermaston has been the site of campaigns against nuclear weapons.

Nearby, RAF Station Greenham Common was used by both the Royal Air Force and United States Army until the Cold War ended and it closed in 1993.

In 1962 Hiroshima survivors led an anti-nuclear march from Aldermaston
In protest at the Cruise missiles stored there, the Greenham Common Women's Peace Camp was formed in 1981.


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