Issues with the Sendai Nuclear Power Plant’s restart – 5: Who are to blame in case of an accident?

Original Japanese written by staffer
The English below translated from the original Japanese by Heeday
The English translation edited by Rev. Dr. Henry French, ELCA

(Sources: articles of August 3rd, 2015 edition of the Asahi Shimbun newspaper and of August 12th, 2015 edition of the Fukushima Minpo newspaper)

▼Click each image to enlarge it and read the caption.

On August 11th, 2015, Kyushu Electric Power restarted Unit 1 of its Sendai Nuclear Power Plant (located in Satsumasendai City, Kagoshima Prefecture, Kyushu). Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet is set to restart all of the nuclear power plants (NPPs) in Japan that pass examinations to be conducted by the Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRA).

With respect to the nation’s NPP restarts, however, accountability has yet to be clearly defined. The only thing that is clear is that we have a lack of clarity with respect to accountability.
Mr. Shun’ichi Tanaka (from Fukushima City), chairperson of the NRA, said, “We have examined whether the Sendai NPP meets the applicable standards. We are in no position to say whether it is safe or not to restart it.” No wonder this remark has caused wild repercussions among many.
Mr. Yoshihide Kan, Chief Cabinet Secretary, claimed that “the NRA should be held accountable to confirm whether a NPP is safe to restart or not.” Turning our eyes to the municipality which hosts the Sendai NPP, Satsumasendai City, Mayor Hideo Iwakiri said, “The NPP has passed the examination compliant with the standards set up by the national government. So, I believe it is safe to restart.” As you can see, the parties involved are shifting accountability onto each other. This vicious cycle of irresponsibility has yet to be resolved. Now, if a major accident hits the Sendai NPP, who is to be held accountable?
Yet another problem is exactly who are the “locals hosting a NPP.” Their consent is required to restart a reactor, and yet there is no clear definition as to which municipalities are such “locals.” I have to say the NPP businesses and authorities have yet to learn any lessons from the Fukushima Daiichi disaster.
In its essence, nuclear policy is established by the national government. If so, in the case of Japan, the Prime Minister should be the one to make the final decisions, and he should be held accountable for all relevant issues.

The tragedy of Fukushima continues today. Nobody knows how soon the tragedy will end – if it ever does. A NPP restart that ignores both an ongoing tragedy and all the suffering of its victims should not be allowed.

The government, as well as every single citizen, should learn more about the agonies and grief suffered by the victims of the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown. In the face of their suffering, we have to build a society powered by new, safer and cleaner energies.