Japanese faith groups oppose re-starting nuclear reactors

Japanese faith groups oppose re-starting nuclear reactors

A growing number of faith groups and individuals, citing the quake-triggered Fukushima nuclear crisis, are joining voices in Japanese society opposing the re-start of two nuclear power plant reactors in the central Fukui prefecture (state).

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has said that re-starting the Oi nuclear plant nos. 3 and 4 reactors, run by the Kansai Electric Power Co., is necessary to avoid electricity shortages in the peak summer usage season.

Japan’s last operating commercial nuclear reactor — the Tomari plant on the island of Hokkaido — went offline on 5 May for mandatory routine maintenance, leaving the nation without atomic-generated electricity for the first time in 42 years.

Japan has 50 nuclear power plants that account for about 30 percent of its electrical generation, but since the damage at Fukushima from the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, they have been subject to safety reviews.

“Restarting the Oi Nuclear Power Plant would be regrettable” if the majority of people have not accepted it, Teruo Kuribayashi, a Japanese theologian and author of books on Christian ethics of nuclear technology, told ENInews in an email.

“Considering the risks of severe accidents and radioactive pollution, it is very questionable if nuclear power plant is a kind of technology that God calls good,” he added.

“It’s natural for us to oppose the plan” to restart the Oi plant, the Rev. Shingo Naito, who chairs the Peace and Nuclear Issues Committee of the National Christian Council in Japan, told ENInews.

On May 30, the Inter-faith Forum for Review of National Nuclear Policy, a Tokyo-based anti-nuclear network led by Buddhists, Christians, and a Shintoist, submitted a petition opposing the restart of the Oi plant to Fukui governor Issei Nishikawa.

In the petition, they said Nishikawa should “share the sadness of the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster” and “wake up to the foolishness of restarting nuclear power plants, with radiation victims among nuclear power plant workers and residents in their vicinities.”

Meanwhile, a team from the Christian Network for Nuke-Free Earth, an interdenominational group based in Chiba, east of Tokyo, plans to adopt a joint statement on June 9 with civic groups in the city of Hakodate in Hokkaido.

The statement is meant to be “a message to the world” to “realise a post-nuclear power society” and ask Japan not to resume construction of the Ohma nuclear plant in Aomori prefecture south of Hokkaido, not to resume operations of any nuclear power plant and halt a nuclear fuel project in Aomori prefecture.

The adoption of the statement is part of a five-day tour from June 5 to nuclear power plants and reprocessing facilities of used nuclear fuels in northern Japan.

In April, the Japan Catholic Council for Justice and Peace released a statement signed by its president, Bishop Daiji Tani, also opposing the Oi plant restart, saying it involves ethical problems. The council urged governments to tackle conversion to renewable energy “as an urgent task.”

By Hisashi Yukimoto, Ecumenical News International

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