Tag Archives: nuclear

So that’s a vote for Hokkaido’s Tomari nuclear power plant restart then

I see in today’s Hokkaido Prefectural election, the anti-nuclear candidate Noriyuki Sato lost. A couple of weeks ago I saw him on the television where he said:

「この知事選は、原発か脱原発かの住民投票だ」

So, since he lost, he will accept the voice of the people. Bonus points to anyone who finds him contradicting that stance in post-election interviews.

 

How undemocratic! It’s not a single-issue election

Reuters published a rather strange analysis/opinion piece on nuclear power and the forthcoming general election. Lets have a look at some of the more curious parts.

[I]t would underline a lack of credible anti-nuclear political standard bearers in Japan and the ability of the LDP to focus the debate on security matters and the stalled economy.

The first clause is correct, but I’d disagree with the second. The economy, along with pensions and benefits, are the most important issue with the population according to surveys, and although I feel Abe talks a lot about national security, I don’t really think it is much of a focus.

An LDP win would also signal successful lobbying by Japan’s "nuclear village"

That doesn’t seem to either fit in with what I understand by the term "lobbying" or explain how the nuclear village could make the LDP win.

"Since Fukushima, Germany rejected nuclear power and Italy rejected nuclear power. If Japan can’t, the world will be amazed."

Neither of these countries rejected it at the polls, and Germany only decided, if I understand it correctly, to accelerate their decommissioning schedule. Is the world amazed by the UK, USA, France, etc not rejecting nuclear power?

"The LDP is the likely winner and is pro-nuclear, but it will not win because it is pro-nuclear but because the DPJ is so hapless and the economy is in trouble and people figure it is time for a change," said Jeffrey Kingston, director of Asian studies at Temple University’s Japan campus.

Yup, I agree.

The DPJ swept to power in 2009 for the first time, promising to put more money in the hands of households through such steps as child allowances and to boost the economy by re-orienting spending and cutting waste. But critics say its promises were honored mostly in the breach

"Critics"? The whole population, and even Noda himself, said that they didn’t keep any of these promises!

"It’s as if public opinion doesn’t matter at all," Kingston said, referring to the sidelining of the nuclear issue by the main opposition party. "It reinforces perceptions about Japan’s democracy deficit."

Well then, why aren’t the DPJ and the rest making the running? Do parties have to ensure that all their policies have majority support before putting them in their manifesto?

Yukiko Kada, the female governor of Shiga Prefecture in western Japan.

Why is she the only one worthy of having their gender noted?

Critics say the veteran deal-maker Ozawa, who quit the DPJ over Noda’s plan to raise the sales tax to curb debt, lacks credibility given his checkered record of political flipflops, although Kada might offset his negative image and help bring together disparate anti-nuclear mini-parties.

I’d say that Ozawa and Kamei (I’m not convinced of his anti-nuclear stance) hiding behind Kada indicates more of a "democracy deficit" that Mr Kingston’s example.

A new party set up by popular Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto to woo disaffected voters also blotted its anti-nuclear copybook by dropping a target for ditching nuclear power after merging with a small pro-nuclear party led by the nationalist octogenarian ex-mayor of Tokyo, Shintaro Ishihara.

I was never convinced that Hashimoto was or is committed to No Nukes.

Some changes are already afoot, including the introduction of a feed-in-tariff (FIT) program under which utilities must buy power from suppliers of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power at pre-set premiums for up to 20 years and moves toward more competition in the utilities sector.

The feed-in-tariff is being cut or dropped by many countries as they realise it is far too expensive, even at a lower premium than in Japan. The issue of breaking up transmission and generation is barely touched in manifestos (I think Your Party only?) but I think it is the best way to cut costs.

"There are a number of factors that would likely stand in the way of a return to business as usual. But it’s not impossible," DeWit said. "I think we can’t dismiss the capacity of the nuclear village to ram through a ‘back to the future’ scenario."

I do find that rather offensive to assume that the only people who could support nuclear power are those with a direct financial stake in it.

Nuclear power, no thanks. Well OK, just a little

Here’s a surprising opinion poll from NHK, on the question of the government energy policy, and whether to have 0%, 15% or 20%-25% nuclear power by 2030. 0% gets 34%, 15% gets 40%, and 20%-25% gets 12%. Further questions included only 8% evaluating the government decision to restart Ooi power station as very high, 34% evaluating it to some degree high , 29% evaluating it poorly, and 23% very poorly. Next, 25% could agree with turning reactors deemed safe back on, 27% oppose, and 43% cannot say.

As a bonus question, people were asked what party would be best to govern Japan; 4% selected a DPJ-led government, 12% LDP-led, 21% a grand DPJ-LDP coalition, and 49% wanted a rebalancing of political power, which probably mainly refers to Hashimoto’s One Osaka and similar parties. The next election (perhaps in October or November) looks like it will be fun…

Continuing this theme, on NHK tonight they had a story about the start of the citizens’ debates into the future energy policy. The big news was that in the three or four that took place over the weekend, on the "randomly selected" panel of initial speakers, there was a suspiciously-high percentage of people employed by the local electricity company (although they were quick to stress they were only talking personally…) and other nuclear power promotional quangos.

NHK mentioned that these meeting were organised by a major media-related company, which I suspect was code for Dentsu. Goodness only knows what they were thinking – I cannot really imagine a larger red rag to a bull than fixing these governmental meetings. :headdesk:

原発おかえりなさい!

Just a wee bit of a trolling headline for an exceptionally humid Kansai day.

Here’s an interesting figure or two from WSJ Real Time Japan:

But scrapping reactors is costly. According to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, if Japan abandons nuclear power now, utilities would need to register ¥4.4 trillion in one-off costs for decommissioning and asset write-offs. They will also face ¥3.1 trillion in additional fossil-fuel costs every year.

As of the end of March, the nation’s 10 utilities had a combined net worth of only ¥5.7 trillion. An immediate exit from nuclear power would leave four of them insolvent — Tepco, Tohoku Electric Power Co., Hokkaido Electric and Japan Atomic Power, METI said.

And another interesting one from Ampontan:

Now for the reality. The Yomiuri Shimbun conducted a poll of the six prefectures in the Kinki region (served by the Oi nuclear power plants) two weeks ago asking whether people approved or disapproved of the resumption of nuclear power generation.

Here are the results:

49%: Approve
41%: Disapprove

The difference was even greater in Osaka Prefecture: 52% in favor vs. 39% against. Shiga was the only thumbs-down prefecture, and the Kyoto results were a rough 50%-50% split.

I don’t have the original question, however.

This post has been sponsored by KEPCO.

Wall Street Journal Japan Real Time: nuke scaremongering

I know it’s not the real newspaper, but I would expect some degree of reporting integrity from them even on their blogs, although given that their comment section seems to attract the usual tinfoil hat anti-nuke crowd, as it would appear that they have decided hits are more valuable than accuracy:

Now, let’s look at their story on radioactive tuna.

Soon after the accident, scientists were pointing out that it’s hard to say where the tuna on your sashimi plate has come from. Even if fish do pass through contaminated waters off the coast of Fukushima, it’s unlikely they would stick around long enough for much radioactive cesium to build up in their bodies, they said.

OK, let’s note that scientific opinion, presented in a manner suggesting that scientists were dismissing the risk.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration notes in a bulletin that radioactive iodine, which has a short half-life, would be gone by the time migratory fish arrive in U.S. waters, and that radioactive cesium hasn’t been detected in any tuna imported from Japan.

That’s facts, not opinion.

Many fisheries have been even more dismissive about the chances of contamination.

The Oregon Albacore Commission said Albacore tuna caught by the U.S. troll and pole fleet were expected to be "completely unaffected" since the tuna are migratory warm water fish.

"Ten years of tagging data show that these fish do not come anywhere close to the cold waters of Japan at this time of year and it is believed that these albacore tuna stocks are currently many hundreds if not thousands of miles away from Japan at this time," the commission said on its website after the accident.

That doesn’t sound dismissive, it is a solid evidence-based viewpoint.

To be sure, the commission may be absolutely right, and the albacore that make their way to Oregon may travel very different routes to the contaminated bluefins caught off the shores of Southern California.

The WSJ is suggesting that the commission is lying about their ten years of tagging data. :facepalm:

It also should be noted that the amounts of radioactive cesium found in the bluefins were only 3% higher than normal, and probably safe to eat, according to the Stanford scientists.

An extra 3% is reported as "probably" safe to eat. :roll: Just like the scientists said at the top of the article, "it’s unlikely they would stick around long enough for much radioactive cesium to build up".

So sushi lovers may still be able to enjoy their maguro for now. Until, that is, Fukushima Daiichi teaches us our next lesson about how much we don’t know.

"may"? "for now"? "until"? :roll: The unchanging levels of mercury are a more real, quantifiable (indeed quantified for pregnant women) risk.