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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

What Happened to Japan's Plan for "Zero Nuclear Power by Year 2030"? - A column by SAITO Minako 斎藤美奈子コラム(東京新聞)英訳

Here is an English translation of Satito Minako's column that appeared in Tokyo Shimbun on April 16. 4月16日『東京新聞』の斎藤美奈子氏による「本音のコラム」の英訳です。

The Focus of Our Attention

By SAITO Minako, 
Translation by Yayoi KOIZUMI

Tokyo Shinbun, April 16, 2014,

From Column of Hon’ne (true inner feelings)

“Nuclear energy is an important base-load power source”; “We will continue to restart the nuclear power plants that meet regulation standards.” The basic energy plan, approved by the government in a cabinet meeting on April 11th, made a malevolent return  to the state of energy plan to the level similar to what it was prior to 3.11.  The content of the new plan makes you stop and say, “are you serious?” 

Whatever happened to the policy put together two years ago, by the Noda Yoshihiko administration (of Democratic Party of Japan), touting to “make operation of nuclear power plant to zero within the 2030s”? That particular policy was created legitimately, having gone through proper channels of hearings, public comment period, and use of deliberative poll to gauge public opinions.

Even though it was its own party’s policy which was rejected by the Abe LDP administration’s new plan, the Democratic Party has not guts to fight; the party representative Kaieda Banri failed to express a clear opposition against the plan as he meekly called it to be “impossible to evaluate.”  Worse, on April 4th, in the lower house, the party voted yes to the Nuclear Power Agreement Approval Plan (原子力協定承認案), which will allow Japan to export nuclear energy. This, is the kind of attitude that drives away even more supporters from the party, hmm-hmm.  

About the Fukushima nuclear accident, the new plan says: “we would like to face steadfastly with the heartaches of those who have been affected by the accident.”  Is this an emotional sort of issue for them, one you can conveniently put aside only by acknowledging “the heartaches of the victims”?!

Even worse: on April 11th, to the inquiry by the former Prime Minister Kan Naoto, about the basis for their claim for “the strictest standard in the world” applied for the safety and restart of nuclear power plants, a person in charge from the Energy Ministry responded: “I am unable to answer the question.”

While such issues of grave importance were being discussed in the Diet, our media instead was making a hoopla about Ms. Obokata Haruko’s STAP cell’s  existence. (1)

That’s science, but these nuclear issues are also science. Both are science. Ask yourself: which one should we focus our attention to?
SAITO Minako (斎藤美奈子, 1956-) - Saito is an award-winning literary critic, feminist writer, prolific author.  More information about Saito is available on a Japanese-language website managed by her publishing agent and also on Japanese Wikipedia.
Yayoi KOIZUMI is a Ph.D. candidate in the field of East Asian Literature, Religion, and Culture at Cornell University. She is working on a dissertation on the representations of people of African
descent in Japan since the WWII. She can be contacted at yk234 at
(1) Obokata Haruko, a female scientist, is currently under media fire for the charges of perjury in one of her high-profile work on STAP cell. See: and


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