Residents attend a symposium on opposition to a plan to build a radioactive waste site in Shioya, Tochigi Prefecture, on May 14, 2015. (Mainichi)
UTSUNOMIYA — While the Environment Ministry held a forum here on the night of May 14 on building disposal sites for radioactive waste and other debris caused by the Fukushima nuclear disaster, opponents of one candidate site held a large-scale symposium in Shioya.
The ministry held the forum in the prefectural capital in connection with plans to build disposal sites in Tochigi and four other prefectures. Meanwhile, the opponents held the symposium in Shioya, about 22 kilometers away from Utsunomiya, under the theme of local natural riches.
About 180 people attended the Environment Ministry’s forum, the second in a series that began in April in Sendai. Officials in charge of designated radioactive waste briefed the participants on the disposal scheme and sought their understanding for constructing a disposal site in the prefecture.
Some of the participants made remarks such as, “If it’s so safe, build it in Tokyo,” and, “We can’t trust the central government because it covers up bad data.”
The Environment Ministry told the Mainichi Shimbun that it held the forum — designed to win understanding from Tochigi prefectural residents — in Utsunomiya rather than Shioya because transportation in the prefectural capital was more convenient, allowing more people to attend.
The symposium in Shioya, organized by a coalition of groups opposed to the proposed disposal site, drew about 1,100 people. Its venue, a high school gym, was packed with local residents and about 200 people watched the event on an outdoor screen. The participants confirmed their resolve to protect the local environment. A 72-year-old man said, “The Environment Ministry’s forum is an event only for convenient explanations. If we participate, we will be counted as supporters.”