Japan Reactor Restarts = Power Company “Corporate Welfare”

The national government is pushing hard to restart the Oi reactors in Japan. Pressure is being put on various involved parties at the local level. Nobody wants to have the final decision for the restart put on their shoulders. The vague wording of the need to gain local approval has created a mess with the entities being involved. Many are refusing to admit a clear stance on the issue. Prime minister Noda  has claimed that “Japanese lifestyles rely on nuclear power” in an attempt to throw the blame back on the public.

The Ohi local assembly has given their approval.
The governor of Fukui has not.
The mayor of Oi has not.
A “group of regional governors” has given approval but it is not totally clear who this includes.
The mayor of Osaka has given his approval for “limited” restart of Oi.

The central government has also issued this new assurance. They will post a METI economics ministry vice minister in Ohi town near the plant to monitor the plant safety.  There was no explanation how this nuclear babysitter would improve the risks of operating the reactors at Oi. “Hosono said, “In the event of an emergency, we will link the Oi nuclear power plant, Kansai Electric, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, and the prime minister’s office via a videoconference system.” During the Fukushima disaster similar communication systems were broken or went unused as the people involved were unfamiliar with their existence. The missile early warning system Japan touted would alert the country to an incoming missile from North Korea also recently failed.

The curious push to restart reactors even as people don’t seem to want it to happen and in the face of conflicting reports on power need & capacity has less than altruistic reasons. Japan’s power companies saw their stock price rise on the news that nuclear reactors in Japan may restart. TEPCO’s restructuring plan only works if the massive Kashwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant is restarted. Without it TEPCO’s financial future is a failure. There is plenty of debate if TEPCO should even be allowed to survive. The disaster at Fukushima Daiichi is not only bankrupting TEPCO it is devouring taxpayer money at a concerning rate. Between compensation costs and the massive costs to deal with the damaged nuclear plant, the bill is becoming a considerable problem.

3/4 of Japanese businesses do not want a rush to restart nuclear reactors even if it would cause them business challenges.  Suzuki has said they would move their plant elsewhere if the Hamaoka nuclear plant is restarted. They felt the risk to their business was too high after seeing the massive business losses around Fukushima Daiichi. Polls show the public consistently opposed to the reactor restarts.

The reactor restarts are not about the needs of a country or it’s people, it is about the profit margin of a group of huge power companies. The government is willing to bet the safety of the people and the future of their country to shore up the business model of private for profit power companies. A recent interview on RT television with Dr. Robert Jacobs of the Hiroshima Peace Institute (and SimplyInfo member) explains the dynamics of the reactor restarts and how they are about power company profits, not public need.

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