JAPAN | Japanese back nuke free future – poll

Posted on June 14, 2011


AUSTRALIA | HERALD SUN | June 14, 2011 4:12PM

ALMOST three-quarters of Japanese respondents to a newspaper poll favour a gradual phase-out of nuclear energy in the wake of the Fukushima atomic accident.

The Asahi Shimbun daily said in its weekend opinion poll that only 14 per cent were against such a gradual reduction.

The poll also showed 64 per cent of respondents believed “natural energy” such as wind and solar power would replace nuclear power in the future, while 24 percent said they did not think so.

The Fukushima nuclear plant, on the northeastern coast facing the Pacific, has leaked radiation since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami crippled cooling systems at the plant, leading to reactor meltdowns.

The worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986 has forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of people from their houses, businesses and farms in a 20km radius around the plant.
Prime Minister Naoto Kan has announced a full review of energy policy, including plans for more reactors, and a push to boost renewables to at least 20 per cent of the electricity supply by the 2020s.

The Asahi phone survey was carried out on Saturday and Sunday, covering 3394 voters across the nation, with 58 per cent giving valid responses.

Earlier, it was revealed six more workers at Japan’s tsunami-damaged nuclear power plant may have exceeded the radiation exposure limit, bringing the total to eight, the government said yesterday.

The health and labour ministry released the preliminary results of tests on how much radiation they had been exposed to as they worked at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant.

Three men are control room operators and the five others worked to restore power that was knocked out by the earthquake and tsunami on March 11.

Operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. said none of them was showing immediate health problems but would require long-term monitoring as they have an increased risk of cancer. All eight have been transferred to desk jobs.

“We find it extremely regrettable,” said Tadashi Mori, a health ministry official in charge of occupational health, referring to the six likely additions. Mori said the ministry plans to take “appropriate steps” over TEPCO’s violation when the results are confirmed.

The government soon after the disaster raised the radiation limit for men to 250 millisieverts from the standard 100 millisieverts so workers could tackle the emergency.

The health ministry also said at least 90 others have exceeded the earlier limit of 100 millisieverts, including several who are nearing the higher limit.