14:00-15:30, Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Governor of Niigata Prefecture
The Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant, operated by TEPCO and housing seven modern reactors, is the largest nuclear generating station in the world by net electrical power rating. Commissioned in September 1985, it has had a troubled history; there was a data falsification scandal in 2002 and a shutdown and fire caused by a major earthquake near the plant in July 2007. Like all other nuclear power plants except Oi, Kashiwazaki-Kariwa has been idle since the Fukushima Daiichi disaster.
Hirohiko Izumida, the Governor of Niigata Prefecture which hosts the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant, has been making waves in the Japanese political world by refusing to turn back to "business as usual" and to accept at face value TEPCO's claim that its plant is perfectly safe for reactivation. Izumida has found himself trading public words not only with TEPCO President Naomi Hirose, but also Minister Akira Amari, both of whom advocate a rapid return to nuclear power.
Ironically, Governor Izumida is himself an alumnus of what is now the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, the original promoter of Japan's nuclear power industry. He is in his third term as Governor, having first come to office in 2004 when he was only 42 years old.