Hiroshima mayor calls for energy policy shift, citing problem of nuclear waste disposal

by Kohei Okata, Staff Writer

Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui said at a news conference on December 26 that the nation’s energy policy must change and put priority on renewable energy sources, given the fact that the problem of disposing of its spent nuclear fuel has not yet been solved. At the same time, he expressed understanding for the application made by the Chugoku Electric Power Company in seeking a safety assessment for the No. 2 reactor at its Shimane nuclear power plant in Matsue, Shimane Prefecture.

Mr. Matsui said, “In the long run, we need to shift to a recycle-oriented energy policy without depending so heavily on nuclear power.” Mentioning former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s support for denuclearizing the nation’s energy sources, he pointed to the problem involving radioactive waste: “As Mr. Koizumi maintains, it is very questionable whether the nuclear waste can be disposed of appropriately after the energy is consumed.”

Regarding the application made by the Chugoku Electric Power Company for the safety assessment on the Shimane plant’s No. 2 reactor, he noted the possibility of a rise in electricity rates caused by the higher costs of thermal power generation. “From a short-term perspective, I don’t believe it’s the wrong choice, considering the lives of our citizens,” he said.

Mr. Matsui holds the view that the central government should design the nation’s energy policy. He has never gone as far as supporting the elimination of nuclear energy in the three peace declarations he has delivered on August 6, the anniversary of the A-bombing, since assuming his post in April 2011.

(Originally published on December 27, 2013)