News / Asia

Japan Court Rules Against Nuclear Restart in Rare Win for Activists

FILE - An aerial view shows Kansai Electric Power Co's Ohi nuclear power plant's No. 4 reactor (front) in Ohi, Fukui prefecture.
FILE - An aerial view shows Kansai Electric Power Co's Ohi nuclear power plant's No. 4 reactor (front) in Ohi, Fukui prefecture.
Reuters
A Japanese court on Wednesday ruled against restarting a nuclear power plant in a rare victory for antinuclear activists after the Fukushima disaster, and dealing a blow to government efforts to end a nationwide nuclear freeze.
 
The ruling against the restart of a western power station run by Kansai Electric Power Co. was a scathing critique of the Japanese nuclear industry's risk management, but does not block a restart under Japanese law as it is not a final ruling.
 
The utility, the country's second-largest, which supplies electricity to a key manufacturing region, said it would appeal the ruling against restarting reactors 3 and 4 at the Ohi nuclear plant in Fukui prefecture, 500 km (310 miles) west of Tokyo.
 
All 48 of Japan's nuclear reactors have been idled for safety checks after an earthquake and tsunami triggered triple meltdowns at Tokyo Electric Power Co's Fukushima Daiichi plant, forcing more than 150,000 residents to evacuate.
 
Japan faces the unprecedented task of decommissioning all three of the destroyed reactors in the coming decades.
 
“Atomic power is important to society but it is a means to produce electricity and it is subordinate to the fundamental cornerstone of personal rights,” the three Fukui District Court judges wrote in their ruling.
 
The court rejected Kansai Electric's safety guarantees as insufficient in addressing the seismological risk.
 
“From the perspective of protecting personal rights and health from radioactive substances, this leaves doubts about whether safety technology and equipment will be sufficient.
 
“To the contrary, it forces us to admit that this is a fragile notion without a firm basis, predicated on an optimistic outlook.”
 
Kansai Electric called the ruling “regrettable.”
 
While the district court decision does not legally block the restart of the reactors, bringing them back online in the face of such a judicial verdict could open the regulator and the government to  criticism.
 
The Japanese public is skeptical of nuclear power, which provided about 30 percent of the electricity used by the world's third-biggest economy before the Fukushima disaster.
 
Opposition to restarts runs about two-to-one in recent polls, while a March survey in the Asahi newspaper found that 80 percent favored a gradual exit from atomic power.
 
“This is a landmark ruling, one that gives voice to many residents who live near nuclear plants, who have previously had no voice,” said city councilwoman Harumi Kondaiji of Tsuruga City in Fukui prefecture, 60 km from the Ohi plant.
 
Yet antinuclear forces have failed to turn sentiment into political clout against the pro-nuclear government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has vowed to restart plants that pass the tougher, post-Fukushima safety checks.
 
A Reuters analysis in April indicated the Ohi reactors were among the most likely to be restarted.
 
Wednesday's ruling complicates the restart of other reactors, with the safety checks bogged down by paperwork and disputes over interpreting new guidelines.
 
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga reaffirmed the government's plan to restart reactors that pass regulatory checks.
 
Japan's top nuclear regulator told reporters it would continue vetting the Ohi plants, but declined to comment on the ruling.
 
But nuclear opponent Aileen Mioko Smith, of the group Green Action, said the rare victory came “right in the middle of the restart process... It could have very well have repercussions.”
 
An Osaka court this month rejected a suit against the Ohi reactors in which Smith's group was a plaintiff.

You May Like

On Everest, Helicopters Rescue Stranded Climbers

Choppers transport some of more than 100 mountaineers trapped after deadly quake, avalanches More

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

In 2005, a Paris suburb exploded into violence after two teenagers were electrocuted as they hid from police; since then, somethings have changed, others not More

US, Japan Announce Historic Revision of Defense Cooperation Guidelines

Nations say new guidelines will be 'cornerstone for peace and security' in Asia-Pacific region while also serving as 'platform for a more stable international security environment' More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 26, 2015 10:36 PM
Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video ‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europe

Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

January’s terrorist attacks and fears of more to come are casting a spotlight on France’s neglected suburbs. Home to many immigrants, and sometimes hubs of crime, they were rocked by rioting a decade ago. Lisa Bryant visited the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where the 2005 violence first broke out, and has this report about what has changed and what has not.
Video

Video Gay Marriage Goes Before US Supreme Court

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether gay people have a constitutional right to marriage. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the case could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, or a continuation of the status quo in which individual states decide whether to recognize gay unions.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

VOA Blogs