November 2, 2014
METI chief Miyazawa pays first visit to Fukushima No. 1 plant
FUKUSHIMA – New trade and industry minister Yoichi Miyazawa paid a visit to the disaster-hit Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant over the weekend, his first since replacing Yuko Obuchi, who resigned in October over a funding scandal.
Miyazawa visited the wrecked plant on Saturday before going to Kagoshima Prefecture to push for the restart of idled reactors there, apparently to fend off criticism that he places greater importance on promoting restarts than dealing with the societal fallout from the triple meltdown in Fukushima.
“There are difficult issues, but we see things proceeding steadily so far,” the economy, trade and industry minister said, referring to efforts to scrap the stricken reactors and deal with the massive amount of radioactive water accumulating at the plant.
Miyazawa said the reactors at the Fukushima plant, run by Tokyo Electric Power Co., and the Sendai plant run by Kyushu Electric Power Co. in Kagoshima are different because the safety of the latter has been confirmed by new safety tests introduced as a result of the Fukushima disaster.
“It is going to be a restart after preparing all we can think of right now to avoid such an accident,” he said.
All of the nation’s 48 commercial reactors remain offline, and must pass the new Nuclear Regulation Authority’s safety assessments before going online again.
The central government and Kyushu Electric are trying to win local consent to restart the two Sendai reactors because they were the first to clear the new safety regime.
He will visit Kagoshima Monday to promote the issue.
Since filling the hole left by Obuchi last month, the new METI chief has been hit by political fund scandals of his own. Last month, he admitted that his fundraising body had booked an ¥18,230 expense for a visit to a sadomasochism sex show bar in Hiroshima that he denied attending.
The Liberal Democratic Party chapter he heads has been accused of receiving an illegal donation from a foreign-owned firm, and the media jumped on his 600-share stake in Tepco as soon as he filled Obuchi’s place. He has since moved the shares to a trust bank, he said.
November 1, 2014
Miyazawa visits Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant
Nov. 1, 2014 - Updated 18:56 UTC+1
Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yoichi Miyazawa has visited the damaged nuclear plant in Fukushima for the first time since taking office less than 2 weeks ago.
Miyazawa met workers at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, including those working to decommission the reactors. He said he would like to express his heart-felt respect to them for carrying out the tough and important work. He also said the government will steadily implement plans to decommission the reactors.
Miyazawa also emphasized his resolve to do all he can to address the issue of water contaminated with radioactive substances. He said there will be no revival for Japan without the restoration of Fukushima Prefecture.
Miyazawa inspected equipment to remove radioactive substances from contaminated water and a construction site where the plant's operator Tokyo Electric Power Company planned to freeze soil and create a wall of ice to prevent the inflow of underground water.
Miyazawa told reporters that he saw the site of an accident that should have never happened. He also said reactors at the nuclear plant in Satsuma Sendai, in Kagoshima Prefecture, will be restarted after full measures are in place to prevent an accident.