2 Aug 2012

Fukushima residents tell govt to get out of nuclear power

5:45 pm on 2 August 2012

Fukushima residents have told Japanese government officials at a public hearing to get out of nuclear power.

The hearing, the ninth of 11 planned nationwide, was called to gather views on nuclear power as the government attempts to cover a power shortfall threatening economic growth.

Meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear plant after an earthquake and tsunami on 11 March last year led the government to shut all nuclear plants until recently.

More than 160,0000 people fled from Fukushima, 240km north of Tokyo, after fears of radiation exposure.

Prosecutors on Wednesday began an investigation after more than 1000 residents filed criminal complaints against 15 former and present Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) officials.

A panel of experts appointed by parliament concluded last month that the disaster could have been prevented and that failure to take precautions was the result of "collusion" between TEPCO, regulators and the government.

About a third of Japan's energy was provided by nuclear power before the disaster.

Now, three options that the government is considering are to phase out nuclear power completely as soon as possible, aim for a 15% share of the power supply by 2030, or a 20% - 25% share by the same date.

Fukushima residents on Wednesday overwhelmingly backed the zero option, with all but one of the 30 who were picked in a draw to speak backing a swift exit.

The Asahi newspaper reported this week that 70% of those taking part in the hearings elsewhere have opted for the nuclear-free scenario.