Japan: Labor Movement Calls for Shift Away from Nukes


Japan's national labor federation, the National Confederation of Trade Unions, or Zenroren, recently released a draft proposal calling on the Japanese government to abandon nuclear energy and to shift to natural, renewable energy resources.

The labor union cited the disaster at Fukushima as a major reason for the need to shift away from nuclear energy. According to the draft proposal, the "grave accident of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant involving the loss of all power supplies, the core meltdown and the release of massive amount of radioactive materials revealed the danger of nuclear power plants, despite the assurance of successive governments and electric power companies that they were 'absolutely safe."

Comparing the recent incident to the 1986 accident at Chernobyl, the labor union's proposal noted the ongoing contamination of the region's food supply and the health hazards created by the Fukushima accident.

The draft proposal recommended scheduling a process for taking steps to prevent similar accidents in the future. First, Japan's Nuclear Safety Commission should review all existing nuclear plants and cancel any plans for new construction that may be already scheduled.

Then, plants located in danger zones that could be affected by natural disasters like the Fukushima plant should be immediately closed and their fuel removed.

Finally, operations at outmoded nuclear plants should then be terminated, followed quickly by ending operations at all remaining plants. The report stated that as a result of current inspections and proposed plant closings, as many as 42 nuclear power plants have already been closed or will be closed.

In the meantime, special efforts should be made to moving the country toward renewable energy sources. "Japan’s future energy policy should be centered on renewable energy sources, including solar, hydraulic, wind, biomass and geothermal powers, by breaking away from nuclear power," the draft proposal explained.

To accomplish the shift to renewable and safer energy sources, Zenroren's report added, Japan must "reconsider 'mass production, mass consumption and mass disposal' and the '24-hour society.'”

The Great Earthquake, as it has come to be known, has made more and more Japanese people aware of the dangers of nuclear energy, the labor federation said. On July 2nd, the union helped bring some 20,000 people gathered at Meiji Park in downtown Tokyo to call for abolishing nuclear reactors.

The labor union adopted a proposal to conduct internal discussions with its membership on the dangers of nuclear energy and the need to shift to safe, renewable sources of energy.

In addition, the union has dispatched as many as 7,000 volunteers to the Tohoku region to help with disaster relief.

Photo by Digital Globe/Wikimedia Commons

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