Friday, September 16, 2011

Who is Goshi Hosono and why should you care?

Goshi Hosono, a politician in the Democratic Party of Japan, House of Representatives, recently became the Minister of the Environment. He has been one of the key middlemen between government officials and TEPCO since the Fukushima Nuclear crisis. He is now is also in charge of developing the compensation packages for the victims of Fukushima. Hosono has recently been promoted to the position of Japan's Environment Minister after Prime Minister Noda replaced Kan. Before the March 11th earthquake, he represented Shizuoka Prefecture District 5, which houses the Hamaoka Nuclear Plant, deemed unsafe for operation soon after the Fukushima accident. He graduated from Kyoto University from the Faculty of Law. With a strong background in law and politics, and not nuclear science, many critics question whether he can make the best decisions regarding nuclear policy.

In his first interview as Environmental Minister on September 4th, Hosono made some controversial remarks. 「福島の痛みを日本全体で分かち合うことが国としての配慮だ], which means "everybody in Japan must share the pain of Fukushima". Within the same article, he also talks about Fukushima's local government refusal to house the storage facilities of the radioactive waste within the prefecture. His remark does not explicitly say that officials have decided to store the radioactive waste in other prefectures around Japan, however, his nuance and its relation to other topics reported in the article suggest that is what might come to be.

As Hosono's debut interview as Environmental Minister began to receive both national and international attention, NHK News pulled the story from their website. Luckily, the news cannot be erased from the newspapers which was released on September 4, 2011. Below is the report.
[From NHK News Japanese (4:42PM JST 9/4/2011):

Minister of the Environment Hosono said in the September 4 press conference that "it is the consideration of the national government [or as Japan as the nation] to share the pain of Fukushima by everyone [or everywhere] in Japan", reiterating his intention to create a final processing facility outside Fukushima Prefecture for debris and dirt contaminated with radioactive materials from the nuclear accident.


The September 4 press conference was his first as the Minister of the Environment. Regarding the disposal of the contaminated debris and dirt removed by the decontamination work, ex-Prime Minister Kan told Governor of Fukushima Sato last month that the national government was proceeding with the plan to create a temporary storage facility in Fukushima but it had no intention of turning this facility into a final processing facility.


In the September 4 press conference, Hosono said of the temporary storage facility, "We won't proceed without consulting the local people in deciding the specific location and the duration of the storage", indicating the details will be worked out after consultation with the local people.


As to the final processing facility, he said he considered it separate from the temporary storage facility, and said further, "I believe it should be the consideration of the national government [or Japan as the nation] to share the pain of Fukushima by everyone in Japan [or everywhere in Japan]. It is my intention to stick to the plan that the final processing facility will never be built in Fukushima", reiterating his idea of creating the final processing facility outside Fukushima Prefecture.]

Recently, many news articles as well as youtube videos of Japanese news reports have disappeared from the internet, including multiple articles accusing the Japanese government of hiring private companies to scan through news websites, private blogs, and twitter and expunge unfavorable news regarding the Fukushima meltdowns.

In this article from the Japan Times, Mr. Hosono is introduced as strong leader, who is going to reshape nuclear policy. If you'd like to hear more from Mr. Goshi Hosono himself, feel free to read through his blog written in Japanese.

As time continues to pass from the initial disaster, and as the clean-up efforts progress, there are still a lot of serious decisions that will be decided by officials, led by Mr. Hosono. The radioactive waste needs to be stored somewhere, and the time is coming when the decision needs to be made as to where. In fact, 76 cylinders of reprocessed radioactive material returned to Japan today from Britain, according to an article from the Japan Times. Protesters greeted the shipment with signs that said, "Keep Nuclear Waste Out". Although the final resting spot of the waste has not been determined, it is now sitting in Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture. 900 more of these cylinders are scheduled to be transported between Japan and the UK within the next 10 years. Where will they end up? Is the transport of these materials secure? How many prefectures will have to "share the pain of Fukushima" by housing these cylinders of nuclear waste scheduled to arrive?

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