September 21- Tokyo Shimbun Newspaper reveals that US high officials have demanded the Japanese government to postpone the cabinet decision to “phase-out its nuclear power plants by the 2030s”. The US high officials, at a press conference organized by the Japanese government, said they are ‘concerned with regulations, such as laws and cabinet decisions, that will limit the scope for future revising of the nuclear policy’. Since the Japanese government came close to its conclusion of the “Innovative Strategy for Energy and the Environment” in early September, Hiroshi Ogushi, the Parliamentary Secretary and Akihisa Nagashima, Special Adviser to the Prime Minister have visited America to explain the policy framework.
At the meeting held on the 14th, Michael Froman, deputy national security adviser at National Security Counci (NSC), said he is ‘concerned with’ the adoption of the new policy, while Ogushi emphasized the importance of the Innovative Strategy to be approved by the cabinet. Moreover, the US officials questioned the target for phasing out “by the 2030s”. Patric Cronin, senior director at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), who is highly influential in American Democratic Party, stated that ‘to indicate a target without giving a road map involves a risk’. In a response, Nagashima explained the cabinet’s situation by answering ‘the Japanese people would consider the restart of nuclear power plants without showing a target for the outphasing as a sign that the government will return to the old nuclear policies’. The US also expressed its concern with the weakening “security treaty” in decline of Japan’s nuclear technology.
Prime Minister Noda’s cabinet, although convened on the 14th for addressing the Innovative Strategy, saw the intention of the US officials and only approved the line ‘the policy for energy and the environment will be exercised with ceaseless revisions and verification’. However, the adoption of Innovative Strategy itself, which includes the principle of “0% nuclear power”, was postponed.
Both Ogushi and Nagashima visited the Prime Minister’s office and reported about their visit to the US. An employee of the Japanese government confessed ‘the US did not accept the cabinet panel’s decision, because if Japan gives up nuclear power and nuclear fuel cycle, it will enfeeble the course of cooperation between Japan and the US’.
‘We changed our decision, but it was not because of the US’
Parliamentary secretary Ogushi told Tokyo Shimbun newspaper on the 21st. He added ‘I cannot tell the details of our conversations, but we acknowledge numerous suggestions from the US officials. However, they did not alter our policy’.
Pressure from the US behind the emasculation of the policy
<Comment> It was revealed the Japanese government neglected the voices of the majority of people and gave way to the US suggestion to ‘avoid the cabinet decision that will fix the 0% nuclear policy in the long term’. The Noda’s cabinet’s intention to castrate the new policy targeting 0% nuclear power is inexcusable. It completely disregards the discussions which Japanese people have built since the Fukushima nuclear disaster on March 2011. In the mutual exchange of opinions, the US ‘respected the Japan’s sovereignty’, but showed their requests based on the arguments ‘the decline in nuclear technology will affect the US nuclear industry’ ‘spent fuel processing without operating nuclear power will allow Japan to accumulate stockpiles of plutonium available for conversion to military use’. During the visit of Japanese high officials, the US government forcefully emphasized the disadvantage of giving up Japanese nuclear policy. Although the Noda’s cabinet sought to explain to the US about the increasing public opinion for “0% nuclear power”, the US officials maintained ‘the Japanese cabinet should not restrict the policy and should leave the space for the future politicians to alter the target’.
The radioactive contamination has created 160,000 refugees and huge damage to the sales of agriculture and fishing industry. The Japanese government must explain the reason why they postponed the important cabinet decision and did not consider the public voices as an issue when making their decision.
Tokyo Shimbun Newspaper, Sep 22, 2012