Media Mix, May 22, 2011

Kashiwazaki-Kariya in Niigata, reportedly the biggest nuclear plant in the world

Here’s this week’s Media Mix, which is about the development of Japan’s nuclear energy policy. As I mentioned in the beginning of the piece most of the information was obtained from the TV Asahi discussion and in-depth report. None of this stuff is new and I found similar information in Aera and other magazines. Though the headline plays up the media role in Japan nuke policy, what I mainly learned from the TV Asahi show was that the maintenance of this policy has less to do with securing a stable energy source than with setting up a self-perpetuating public works program. The result of this public works program is that there are too many people whose interests are directly tied to the continuance of nuclear power. This point was not explicitly laid out in the TV Asahi show but seemed pretty obvious, especially when they interviewed local government officials, both former and current, who have been involved in their respective communities’ nuclear power plant negotiations. They gave the impression that once a nuke was built in their area, it took over the life of the community because so much money was involved. TV Asahi only hinted at the kind of internal strife this might cause. The program mentioned local protests against nuke plants, implying that they were instigated by older radicals from the student movement days, but I’ve read elsewhere that proposed reactor construction often split communities, causing animosities that destroyed life-long friendships. When the Fukushima crisis was first developing and people from the vicinity of the crippled reactors were moved to evacuation centers, I wondered about the atmosphere in those centers: People who supported the building of the plants living cheek-to-jowl with people who opposed them, both suffering equally for their existence.

Note: Due to an editing error that I missed in the proofing stage, there’s a significantly misplaced comma in the eleventh paragraph, which currently reads “due to depreciation tax, revenues decrease over time.” It should read: “due to depreciation, tax revenues decrease over time.” As far as I know, there’s no such thing as a “depreciation tax.” Since I’m not an administrator at the JT website, I’ll have to wait a day to have it corrected.

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