Who Really Runs Japan?

Business groups have been pushing their influence on the Japanese government. Industries agenda may find itself in direct conflict with the people.

Both of Japan’s major political parties have cowed to industry pressure to resume nuclear reactors.

“Politicians are quietly lowering anti-nuclear colors raised following the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant as Japan prepares for a second summer of energy shortages and a major debate over restarting suspended reactors. Under intense pressure from the business world to ensure stable energy supplies, officials of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan are leaning toward allowing the resumption of reactors taken off the grid for periodic inspections. Meanwhile, the opposition Liberal Democratic Party on Feb. 15 released an interim report on nuclear energy policy that effectively put off forming a definite policy on the future of nuclear energy in Japan for a decade.”

The urgency to restart reactors is not reflected in more recent reports that show Japan has enough energy capacity to make it through the demands of the coming summer and won’t need to implement energy reductions on large power consumers, where most industry falls.  The industry push may be more about trying to keep rates low and having extra capacity to assure no interruptions then any actual need.

The big banks have jumped into the fray alongside industry groups in trying to force reactor restarts. The banks are now holding hostage loan money for TEPCO that will only be given if TEPCO resumes nuclear power generation and hikes rates.  Now both Edano and Noda are parroting the industry call for restarts.

Meanwhile international experts are criticizing Japan’s lax safety culture as a contributing factor to the accident. The group insists that Japan fix their oversight system. Others criticize the poor communication that caused confusion, delays and put the public directly in harms way.

The government is now in a power struggle with TEPCO over the board of directors. The government wants to replace the entire board and TEPCO is resisting anything that takes control from the company.

Another terrible example of the problems of industry and government was revealed. Just days before the 3-11 disaster nuclear power companies pressured a government committee to rewrite history. The Earthquake Research Committee outlined how the Jogan earthquake and tsunami in 839 showed the potential for a similar massive disaster to happen today. The Jogan quake and tsunami hit Myiagi and Fukushima prefectures, the same region hit by the 3-11 quake and tsunami. Industry would rather try to rewrite history than admit their plants are at major public safety risk.

What appears absent in all of this is the public. No discussion of public safety or concern for the people seems to ever be mentioned.


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