Sep. 8, 2014
An NHK survey shows that more than 60 percent of local governments that host or surround a nuclear power plant are cautious about restarting idled reactors even if they meet new safety guidelines.
Last month, NHK polled 146 prefectures and municipalities within a 30-kilometer radius of a nuclear power plant.
The survey asked whether they will approve restarting plants nearby if authorities find they satisfy new safety requirements.
About 12 percent said they will approve or hope to approve in the future, while 8 percent said they will not approve or will never approve. About 67 percent said they were undecided for now.
Of the respondents, 44 percent of the municipalities that host a plant gave a positive answer. Only 8 percent of municipalities surrounding a plant did so.
Asked why they are against or cautious about restarting a plant, 30 percent replied that it’s because inspections by Japan’s nuclear regulating body have not yet finished. About 25 percent said the central government has not yet dealt with the issue. Another 23 percent said residents are wary of a restart.
There is currently no legal framework for the central government to obtain approval from local municipalities to restart reactors. When asked what they thought of this, 42 percent said local governments should be asked for approval, while 9 percent said it was not necessary.
University of Tokyo Graduate School Professor Hideaki Shiroyama says it is necessary to create a framework where the state comes to the forefront to explain the safety of nuclear plants, as well as measures to avoid accidents.
He also says that local governments must confirm residents’ understanding and be able to refuse a restart unless they get a full explanation and support from the central government.