Edano says gov't won't allow Kyushu Electric to restart 2 reactors at Genkai plant

TOKYO —

Economy and Trade Minister Yukio Edano on Friday reiterated the government’s position that Kyushu Electric will not be given the go-ahead to restart two reactors at its Genkai nuclear power plant in Saga Prefecture.

Edano has been fiercely critical of the utility since the top two executives refused to resign to take responsibility for a fake email scandal to manipulate public opinion on the resumption of operations at the power plant.

Kyushu Electric submitted fake emails in support of a restart of two idle nuclear reactors at a government-sponsored meeting for local residents in June. Following that revelation, the industry ministry ordered six electric power companies to conduct internal investigations of their PR activities and to report all activities aimed at winning local support for nuclear power.

An independent commission investigating the scandal named Saga Prefectural Gov Yasushi Furukawa Committee chairman as the person who proposed that fake emails be used in the question and answer session.

In order to create the impression that there existed widespread public support for the reopening of the Genkai nuclear power plant, Furukawa allegedly told Kyushu Electric to use the Internet to submit messages purporting to be from members of the public agreeing to the plan.

In August, Furukawa told a news conference that a memo was drafted, but that it did not accurately represent his wishes. “The fact that the memo got circulated does not mean that I have to take responsibility for the scandal,” he told the media.

Kyushu Electric’s internal investigation revealed that, of 2,900 employees, 141 sent emails. It also found that Kyushu Electric’s Saga office had sent similar pro-nuclear emails to partners and that it asked employees at its subsidiaries and partner companies to attend a July 8 meeting for residents in the prefecture. The commission found that 63 employees of these companies were present at the meeting, constituting about 20% of the audience.

Edano said the current management has ignored most of the findings of the independent commission set up to investigate the scandal.

The utility resumed operations at its No. 1 reactor last month, but reactors No. 2 and 3 have been offline for safety checks.

The reactor at the Genkai nuclear plant was the first to resume operations since the massive earthquake and tsunami of March 11 sparked an atomic emergency at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

The restart comes as a boost to Japan’s beleaguered nuclear industry, which is battling a skeptical public largely unwilling to allow operations to restart at the dozens of stalled reactors nationwide.

Kyushu Electric officials, however, say the situation at Genkai is different from that of other suspended reactors, which are required to undergo government-mandated stress tests.

Reactors halted for checks must pass stress tests before they are allowed to resume operation, but local authorities have the power to veto the restarts.

Public officials in Saga gave their assent to the restart there after the nuclear safety agency gave its stamp of approval.

Japan Today

  • 1

    Cricky

    Good God, the man wrote the E-mail and refuses to accept it's his fault. If the only pressure that can be applied is a refusal to restart, good. Ten points for the Government on this one. 20 points if they can legislate laws to give them the power to criminally charge fraudulent activities such as this.

  • 2

    smithinjapan

    Well, I'd rather it be that the reactors won't be restarted because they are unsafe and not because of politics, but if the latter is all that can keep them from going online again and putting added pressure on the company execs, then fine.

  • 5

    zichi

    Unfortunately, some nuclear reactors will have to be started until other method of power generation, like from renewables can be built. I don't think the country needs 54 reactors or an additional 12-14 which are being built. All reactors older than 30 years should be shut down and those in dangerous places like Hamaoka should also be shut down.

  • 0

    nandakandamanda

    Agreed with smithinjapan. Right decision, wrong reason. But what zichi says is true too...

    BTW the idea of having reactors like this in the SW, i.e. in the best position to carry poison on the prevailing winds all over Japan sticks in my craw.

    In an accident we would all be stuffed. No silver lining. In a sense, Fukushima was one of the best places to have an accident, if you are going to have one, since much of the lethal cargo blew NE out to sea.

  • 0

    The Munya Times

    Edano has been fiercely critical of the utility since the top two executives refused to resign to take responsibility for a fake email scandal to manipulate public opinion on the resumption of operations at the power plant.

    Reactors are unsafe because of politics, business politics, and those jerk-offs. They should be shut down at the first place. That stupid mentality of always beating around the bush and fixing what is not the problem. It's like a mass murderer kills with a knife, they ban the knives, if kills with an umbrella they ban the umbrellas, if my wife commits adultery I kill the guy, tear the bed which they used apart and stab the keyhole which I peeped them through with my sword.

    What those two executives did was low. Now, here comes the wise punishment, they can keep their job, their high salary and we shut down the NPP. No it's not the way to move forward.

    BTW I am not happy about NPPs either but first we gonna build better things and shut them down after that.

  • 2

    ebisen

    Edano - my favourite politician in Japan. Made out of rock, a guy that knows when to shout and kick at idiots in order to get through... Last year he was basically an unknown nobody, but did very well after the earthquake and obviously deserves his position...

  • 0

    ebisen

    nanda - reactors are unsafe only because of the people leading their supervision. The technology is not inherently unsafe, the people behind it make it so. Therefore the reason not to start it is perfect - the people supervising it are not trustworthy...

  • -1

    Elbuda Mexicano

    I love Edano San!! He is one of the few honest people we have in Nagatacho!!

  • 0

    MaboDofuIsSpicy

    Very difficult situation with the way management acted with the email game.

  • 0

    BurakuminDes

    Good on you Mr Edano. This Kyushu Electric mob is just awfully corrupt. Wouldn't it be nice if Japanese business leaders started accepting responsibility for their misdeeds, cover-ups and lies? Ahh...I'm just dreaming - it will never happen!

  • -1

    Samantha Zoe Aso

    The thing is .....management got caught out with the fake emails and blatantly refuses to resign, what other 'stuff' is going on down at that plant regarding safety checks and god knows what else? Obviously the management involved are audacious and think they are above the law and beyond any reproach!

  • 0

    globalwatcher

    Every day I read some corrupted politicians and executives like Furukawa of Genkai Plant, TEPCO, Olympus and Daio Paper and nothing is changed. What a country! Shame. I am so frustrated for the people of Japan., They deserve better than this. Edano is my favorite politician in Japan. Hope someday, he becomes a PM of Japan and starts cleaning up all including corrupted KEIDANREN. Enough is enough.

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