Hokkaido governor admits gov’t attempt to manipulate opinion on ‘pluthermal’ plan
SAPPORO — Hokkaido Gov. Harumi Takahashi has admitted the prefectural government’s involvement in Hokkaido Electric Power Co.’s alleged attempt to manipulate public opinion on a “pluthermal” plan at its nuclear plant.
Takahashi told a prefectural assembly session on Nov. 29 that she has “decided to accept” a third party fact-finding panel’s report, which concludes that an official who headed the prefectural government’s nuclear safety division was involved in the case.
When the power supplier’s third party panel initially pointed to the possibility of the prefectural government’s involvement, the governor categorically denied the allegations saying, “That’s absolutely impossible.”
However, on Nov. 29 Takahashi told the assembly, “It was inappropriate that the division chief in charge made remarks that could be interpreted as asking (employees of the utility to express their opinions as local residents in favor of the project).”
The governor also suggested that she will punish herself and other officials concerned, and take measures to prevent a recurrence.
“I’ll clarify the prefectural government’s responsibility for the case, including my own supervisory responsibility, while taking remedial measures such as awareness-raising efforts for high-ranking officials,” she said.
Even though she stopped short of specifying punitive measures against top officials including herself, sources with the prefectural government said she is considering cutting her salary.
Takahashi denied that the power supplier’s alleged attempt to manipulate public opinion had any influence on the local government’s decision on whether to approve the project. “The fact-finding committee has concluded it’s impossible that what has been deemed as Hokkaido Electric Power Co.’s inappropriate action had any influence on our prior consent.”
Some members of the Hokkaido Prefectural Assembly expressed dissatisfaction with the governor’s explanation.
“The prefectural government’s decision to close the curtain on the case after concluding that the division chief in charge attempted to manipulate public opinion solely at his own discretion can’t win understanding from prefectural residents,” one of them said.
An opposition member of the assembly criticized Takahashi’s lack of apology as “insincere.”
Pluthermal refers to projects in which MOX fuel made by mixing plutonium and uranium is used in thermal reactors at nuclear power plants.
Click here for the original Japanese story
(Mainichi Japan) November 30, 2011
Andrew Bolt should move to Hokkaido. Along with a couple of academics, one from Adelaide Uni and one from Flinders Uni.