JAPAN | Largest labor organization questions nuclear energy policy

Posted on August 6, 2011

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JAPAN | JAPAN TIMES | 6 August 2011

HIROSHIMA — Japan’s largest labor organization questioned national energy policy Thursday, including its diehard promotion of nuclear power despite the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant.

“The basis of what Japan’s energy policy should be, including nuclear power, is being questioned,” Hiroyuki Nagumo, secretary general of the Japanese Trade Union Confederation, told an antinuclear gathering in Hiroshima.

“The Japanese people’s trust in nuclear power generation has been lost,” Nagumo told around 6,500 participants at the event organized jointly by the confederation, the Japan Congress Against A- and H-Bombs, and the National Council for Peace and Against Nuclear Weapons.

It was the first time the confederation, known as Rengo, has brought up the issue of nuclear energy since 2005, when it began co-organizing annual peace events to commemorate the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui and Hiroshima Gov. Hidehiko Yuzaki attended the gathering Thursday.

But Nagumo did not elaborate further on the issue, reflecting tensions within the group, which is the biggest supporter of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan and has labor unions representing workers at power utilities and reactor manufacturers.

“We have to start discussions concerning nuclear energy from the beginning to decide what we should do in the future,” Nagumo told reporters Thursday.

The confederation and the antinuclear groups are united in opposing nuclear weapons and in calling for better support for A-bomb survivors.

But Rengo and the council were promoting nuclear power before the March 11 earthquake and tsunami crippled the Fukushima complex and caused massive radioactive fallout.

In May, Rengo decided to freeze its policy of promoting new nuclear plant construction.

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