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United Daily News: Three years after Japan's nuclear disaster
Central News Agency
2014-03-11 10:50 AM
Today is the third anniversary of Japan's Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, which led to the meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Over the past year, reconstruction in the disaster areas has made little progress, but public opinion in Japan on nuclear power has undergone a subtle shift. It appears Japan is moving toward re-starting dozens of nuclear reactors that were shut down after the Fukushima disaster. One of the signs is the election of Yoichi Masuzoe, a pro-nuclear former Cabinet member, as governor of Tokyo in February. Another is the result of a recent survey of 157 local governments within 30 kilometers of nuclear plants conducted by the Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Nearly 30 percent of respondents expressed support or conditional support for reopening the nuclear reactors, with a similar percentage against the idea. This is obviously different from three years ago when almost none of the local governments agreed to such a proposal. Since the shutdown of the nuclear power plants, Japan has spent US$220 billion importing natural gas to fill its power shortage. The impact on Japan's economy and the life of its people has been greater than expected. Furthermore, an independent investigation commission formed by the Japanese parliament has attributed the Fukushima disaster more to human error than the natural catastrophe, pointing to failure by the plant's operator to update its nuclear security protocols over the past 30 years. In Germany, efforts to phase out nuclear power also seem to have hit a deadlock in the face of mounting public complaints over rising electricity rates. Given the huge damage caused by the Fukushima disaster, it was only natural that the incident led to a global debate over the continuation of nuclear power. Beyond simply debating the question, however, a more important issue is how to move forward. (Editorial abstract -- March 11, 2014) (By Y.F. Low)
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