The 1st Meeting of the Policy Council of JFIR on "Japan and the World in the post-3.11 Era" Held

The 1st Meeting of the Policy Council of JFIR on "Japan and the World in the post-3.11 Era" was held on June 9 under the chairmanship of President ITO Kenichi and was attended by 22 members of the Policy Council.

Prof. SHIMADA Haruo, who was appointed Head of the Task Force of the Policy Council on the topic of "Japan and the World in the post-3.11 Era," introduced a "Concept Paper" which he drafted for the Council and stated as follows:

The Great East Japan Earthquake in March 2011 was an extremely significant incident for Japan as well as for the world in view of the triple difficulty of the earthquake, the tsunami and the nuclear accident, the last of which is especially in a critical condition. In that sense, the greatest point to discuss in this Policy Council will be the "energy issue" around the issue of nuclear power plants. In fact, the "Concept Paper" drafted for the Policy Council basically addresses the "energy issue." Our policy recommendations should be directed to the "best mix of energy." The government of Japan has positively promoted the use of nuclear power in tandem with Tokyo Electronic Power Company (TEPCO). Just as the government and TEPCO have repeatedly emphasized the safety of nuclear power plants, the nuclear power plants have been operated without major troubles. This is a surprise considering the fact that Japan is an earthquake-prone country and most of the nuclear power plants are located in the coastal areas facing the threat of tsunami. However, the excessive confidence in the safety of nuclear power plants, often represented as "Nuclear Power Renaissance," was completely overturned by the latest earthquake disaster. At the same time, it eventually illuminated the flaw of the government of Japan, who had been "deliberately" distracting her attention from the potentiality of a nuclear accident. For instance, despite her superior technology, Japan has not developed robots with the ability to operate even in high radiation. On the other hand, the "energy issue" including the nuclear power has a close connection with the global-scale reduction of CO2 emissions. Confronting the Great East Japan Earthquake, Japan had no way but to drastically modify her CO2 reduction target of the Kyoto Protocol, which had been on the way to accomplishment, laying a particularly serious meaning on the whole world. In light of those backgrounds, Japan should take advantage of her experience of the latest earthquake disaster and reacknowledge the need to explore the "best mix" of energy. Even though we cannot help but utilize the currently existing nuclear power plants, we should embody a continuous effort to gradually reduce the number of nuclear power plants while infallibly assuring as much safety as possible.

In response to the above presentation, members of the Council present joined in an active exchange of views of the topic. Finally, Prof. SHIMADA Haruo, Head of the Task Force, wrapped up the meeting with the following statement:

The whole world is paying attention to how Japan, who has supported nuclear power in a positive manner, will handle this crisis. First, regarding the transparency of information, it is essential for Japan to regain trust from the world. Second, as for the environmental matter, Japan should convince the world of her incapability of achieving the Kyoto Protocol goal on a short-term basis. On top of that, we would further discuss what Japan should do in order to contribute to the world on a long-term basis.

 

The Japan Forum on International Relations (JFIR)

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