Kan comes out for a society with no nuclear power plants
Prime Minister Naoto Kan (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
Prime Minister Naoto Kan on July 13 laid out his vision to build a society without nuclear power plants by gradually moving away from reliance on this energy source.
"I came to believe we should aim for a society that does not depend on nuclear power," Kan said in a televised news conference from his official residence. "We can phase out the dependence on nuclear power plants and achieve a society that can work without nuclear power plants."
But Kan did not spell out any specifics for his vision, such as a timetable and how many nuclear power plants should be decommissioned by when.
Referring to the ongoing crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, the prime minister said, "When I think of the enormous risks of a nuclear accident, I am convinced that (nuclear power) is the technology that cannot be controlled by the conventional idea to ensure safety alone."
Kan said that what type of energy source the Japanese public chooses to meet its growing demands for power is a big political question.
Asked if he may dissolve the Lower House to call for a snap election on the issue, he denied the possibility.
"I am not considering the dissolution (of the Lower House) over this issue," he said.
He also said that it is the government's responsibility to ensure the nation's power supply will meet the needs of the public and industries.
As for the balance between power demand and supply, in light of the sweltering summer heat and loss of power from the Fukushima No. 1 plant and other nuclear plants, Kan said that Japan is well-equipped to handle the shortfall through conservation efforts and in-house power generation during the peak summer demand.He said that the government is working on a supply plan for the coming months.
Survey: Fewer abalone, sea urchins in post-tsunami sea
BY YUMI NAKAYAMA STAFF WRITER
An underwater researcher checks marine creatures in Otsuchi Bay in Iwate Prefecture on July 12. (Gen Hashimoto)
OTSUCHI, Iwate Prefecture--The first survey of marine life living on the seabed after the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami showed a sharp drop in abalone and sea urchins.
The survey was conducted July 11 and 12 in Otsuchi Bay in Iwate Prefecture.
Tomohiko Kawamura, associate professor at the University of Tokyo's Atmosphere and Ocean Research Institute, led the research team.
"The numbers of sea urchins and abalone will recover in a few years because there's plenty of seaweed for them to eat," Kawamura said. "But I think fishing should be restrained this year."
The institute and the Fisheries Research Agency have jointly conducted fixed-point observations at a depth of 10 meters off Otsuchi four times a year for the last five years.
The survey counted creatures found within 2-meter square frames at eight locations.
The number of short-spined sea urchins plummeted from 44-52 last year to only two, while northern sea urchins dropped from 140-160 to 59, the survey found.
Only a few abalone with a length of 5 centimeters or less, which are 2 or 3 years old, were observed.
None of the young abalone that were released last year was found.
Since shellfish cannot anchor themselves as well as sea urchins to the seabed, they may have been washed away, researchers said.
In contrast, seaweed increased because there is less marine life in the area eating it.