July 12(Tuesday)

The essence of the problem behind the introduction of stress tests

 

Yesterday marked the fourth month since the great earthquake disaster struck. During this time, I have dedicated myself in my own way to recovery and reconstruction and also responses to the nuclear accident. Yet I am unable to convey adequately my true intentions regarding my words and actions. On reflection, I feel that I am not quite fully conveying my personal thoughts on account of my being overly conscious of my position as Prime Minister.

 

With regard to the recent introduction of stress tests for each of Japan's nuclear reactors, yesterday a consensus opinion of the Cabinet was compiled. I had given instructions for the 'formulation of rules in a way acceptable to the public' and I feel that we succeeded in compiling a document that makes progress in this regard. This was not by any means a conclusion reached lightly, but rather a conclusion that was reached by starting from the viewpoints of 'safety and peace of mind.'

 

The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) is situated within the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, and we must resolve at an early time the contradiction of having the same entity 'promoting' nuclear power and 'checking' it. This is something that we already declared within a report submitted to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), an international organization, and not something that was brought up just now out of the blue. Grounded in this thinking, naturally the decision to restart each nuclear reactor and other matters cannot be left to only NISA in its current form. The cornerstone of this recent policy decision is that, even if that is in fact the procedure under the existing legal system, the reality is that we should involve the Nuclear Safety Commission, an independent entity. In parallel with this decision, review work has already begun on a re-examination of the "form" to be taken by nuclear energy-related regulations and administration, which is the crux of the issue.

 

At the same time, the government must ensure another form of 'peace of mind,' namely, shouldering responsibility for electrical power supply in the near term. For this reason I have given instructions to take up considerations such that a concrete policy can be put forth in the near future regarding policies for ensuring electrical power supply as well, including the further utilization of companies' in-house power generation and innovative means of energy conservation. To review from a blank slate the Basic Energy Plan we have had in place until now, and over the medium to long term to introduce renewable energies and promote energy conservation and to break away from our dependence on nuclear power each day, to what extent can I transform such clear-cut 'resolve' into concrete 'form'? Today I will once again give it my all in engaging in these matters.



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