Nuclear debate gets Japan hot under the collar
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Nuclear debate gets Japan hot under the collar

It’s been a week since the Japanese Environment Ministry launched its annual Super Cool Biz campaign, but without nuclear power, keeping cool this summer will take more than going to work sans necktie.


Streaks of car lights run through buildings with turned-off neon signs in the Shibuya shopping district in Tokyo. Scheduled power cuts could become a fact of life in Japan this summer. Pic: AP.

Although the entire country will be affected by losing one third of its power generators, areas in Japan’s South-West like Kansai and Kyushu are expected to be hit the hardest because utilities in these areas have traditionally relied heavily on nuclear power.

Tepco’s sister company, Kansai Electric Power Company (Kepco) has already predicted planned power cuts may become essential if households cannot cut their electricity consumption over the summer period.

The Environment Ministry’s Cool Biz website provides tips on how to conserve energy this summer including sprinkling water around the house instead of using the air conditioner.

But despite the sweaty summer forecast, Japanese people are more opposed to nuclear power generation than ever.

Japan Today reports that a survey by the Pew Research Center has revealed that 70 per cent of Japanese believe they should reduce their reliance on nuclear energy. That figure is up from 44 per cent, last year.

What’s more, 80 per cent  of the 700 people surveyed said they are dissatisfied with how the government has handled the crisis.

And that dissatisfaction is continuing.

The government funded atomic research agency, Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) was forced to pull a controversial campaign, comparing radiation to an ‘angry wife’.

Reuters reports that the campaign, which was designed to explain the difference between radioactive material, radioactivity and radiation by comparing them to a frustrated wife, was aimed at women.

“[A] wife’s screaming to her husband can be compared to radiation, her agitated state to radioactivity, and the wife herself to radioactive material,” explained JAEA’s website.

Although the web page was published over a year before the March 11 nuclear disaster, the negative press has put another nail in the coffin for nuclear energy generation in Japan.

Yusuke Uehara, a JAEA spokesperson apologized for the website saying that it “discriminates against women, which is inappropriate” but was at a loss as to why it had suddenly received so much attention.

“We would have deleted it earlier had we known about this page,” he said.