AS JAPAN COMMEMORATED the tragic nuclear accident that hit Fukushima on 11 March 2011, Greenpeace Japan renewed its calls on the government to prioritise safety and the environment, by rejecting coal and nuclear power and shifting to renewable energy policies.

Sam Annesley, Executive Director of Greenpeace Japan, said: “We would like to express our sympathies to those who lost their families and loved ones in the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. We stand in solidarity with those who have suffered and continue to suffer from the consequences of this terrible nuclear disaster.

“After the Fukushima accident, Japan started its rebuilding efforts – restoring towns, transportation networks and infrastructure one after another. At the same time, the past decade gave the country an opportunity to review its energy plan for the safety and well-being of the Japanese people, or so it seemed.

“After years of being heavily reliant on nuclear power, Japan finds itself at a crossroads. Unfortunately, after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident, the Japanese government started promoting coal-fired power plants which has led to another problem: the acceleration of the climate crisis. Globally, the next 10 years will be a decisive period for governments to mitigate the catastrophic effects of the climate emergency on people and biodiversity. In the last few years, many countries have already shifted to renewable energy, particularly Germany. It reduced its share of nuclear energy from 22 per cent to 11 per cent, while increasing its renewable uptake from 17 per cent to 45 per cent. Japan should take inspiration from this and urgently revise its energy policies in favour of clean, safe renewable energy.

“Greenpeace Japan reiterates its calls for the government to build back better by promoting renewable energy policies instead of coal and nuclear. Japan has the capacity and the technology in place, but lacks the will to do so. Looking at future scenarios, the Japanese government should invest in decentralised renewable energy sources that are relatively resilient to earthquakes and other extreme weather events in order to prevent accidents like Fukushima from happening again.”

Kazue Suzuki, Climate/Energy Campaigner of Greenpeace Japan said: “According to surveys conducted by Japanese media, it is clear that many people want to get rid of nuclear power plants. However despite this, the government is trying to restart nuclear power plants one after another, ignoring the will of the people.

“Plans to restart nuclear power plants must be abolished and instead, the government must prioritise people’s safety and well-being by shifting to renewable energy.

“The accident at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station is far from over. Even now, to the best of the government’s knowledge there are at least 35,000 people still living as evacuees, and lawsuits seeking compensation for damages continue throughout Japan. The transfer of radioactive materials is causing recontamination. The slow decommissioning of Fukushima Daiichi is also raising global alarm as the amount of radioactive water generated, and stored on site, increases day by day.

“The Japanese government must put people’s interests first. It should provide just compensation for Fukushima survivors, and most importantly, ensure people’s future by taking action on the climate and phase out dirty and dangerous coal and nuclear energy for good.”

* Source: Greenpeace International