Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Banner Rally @ Hitachi in Tokyo: 6 countries unite to protest nuclear exports to Lithuania

Hitachi, Gerbk Lietuva! Hitachi, respect Lithuania!*
Concerned citizens from Japan, Lithuania, Austria, Korea, USA and Russia united in front of Hitachi Headquarters in Tokyo on December 18, 2012 to speak out against the nuclear services provider's insistance on exporting Fukushima-model advanced boiler water reactors to Lithuania. Ten-meter banners stretched across the street like rays of light proclaiming in Lithuanian and Japanese, "Hitachi respect Lithuania!" "Stop nuclear export to Lithuania!"

According to anti-nuclear activist and nuclear engineer by training, Andrey Ozharovskiy, "the banner rally was co-organised by Lithuanian anti-nuclear NGOs and political parties with support from Japanese NGO. Police did not interfere. None from Hitachi came to talk to the protesters." 

Passerby spreads word of protest: "Hitachi- stop nuclear exports to Lithuania!" 
Protesters included permaculturalist Kai Sawyer, Green Action director Aileen Mioko Smith, and Beyond Nuclear director Paul Gunter. Following the banner action, Paul Gunter, Aileen Mioko Smith, and Italian biologist and Scientists against the War member Monica Zoppe held an event at Doshisha University in Kyoto. They spoke on collusion between the U.S. nuclear industry and the nuclear regulations board in Japan and nuclear free Italy.

News of the protests has already reached readers of the Lithuanian newspaper Bakurus Ekspreses, demonstrating the potential for international solidarity in the fight against nuclear power to raise awareness. Lithuanian Farmers Union President told Barkurus Ekspreses that he shares the goals of the protesters. He is working to inform people about the results of the referendum on the power plant, and explained that any self-respecting company would withdraw from a project after a referendum deciding against it. Hitachi has not stated that it will abort its export plans. Shibun Akahata, the newspaper of the Japanese Communist Party, also reported on the banner action.

Banner action appears in Lithuanian newspaper immediately after

In a recent non-binding referendum in October, 62.68% decided against the construction of a new nuclear power plant in Lithuania. (For more details see previous post). Lithuania has also lost its funding from the European Union for the decommissioning of its Igalina nuclear reactors because it has not yet resolved the issue of where to store spent fuel from the plants. Closing down Igalina was a requirement for Lithuania's accession to the EU.
Radioactive waste containers at Igalina (Photo courtesy of Igalina Nuclear Power Plant Homepage
Hitachi won a bid from the Lithuanian government for the construction of the plant after Germany decided to denuclearize. Anti-nuclear movements in Lithuania expressed outrage that the government would risk the safety of its people for so-called energy security. Lithuania currently imports 50% of its natural gas from Russia, and is effectively dependent on Russia for 80% of its energy requirements. Despite the Lithuanian governments protest against Russia for its plans to construct nuclear plants near its border, the Lithuanian government is now seeking to build a nuclear power plant in efforts to achieve energy independence.

International environmental NGO, Bellona, however, explains that graduating from nuclear power will allow Lithuania to diversify its energy portfolio and eventually gain independence:
Following Ignalina’s closing, Lithuania will – at least for the first several years – have to depend on imported energy to cover around a half of its energy needs, including imports from Russia, the Ukraine, and Belarus. Those bridges it never had the chance to build with Western electricity providers will then become another option as it negotiates plugging into Swedish and Polish grids....

There are hopes, however, that betting on fossil-based energy will only be a temporary measure for Lithuania. In the long term, the country may grow to generate over a third of its energy from renewable energy sources. According to climate commitments agreed on in the European Union, no less than 23 percent of all energy is expected to be produced from clean sources by 2020. Local biofuel resources hold significant potential for Lithuania’s green energy sector, as do wind energy converters. At present, Lithuanian wind power plants have a combined output of 200 megawatts and another 1,000 megawatts’ worth of electricity production will be added by 2020.

A joint letter of demand (see below) from these Lithuanian and Japanese NGOs was sent to Hitachi,. Ltd and Governments of Lithuania and Japan later today.
Hitachi, Ltd
Hitachi GE Nuclear Energy, Ltd
Copy to: Government of Japan Government of Lithuania Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC)

LETTER OF DEMAND Vilnius-Tokyo, 18th December 2012

We, the undersigned members of the civil societies of Lithuania and Japan strongly demand from Japanese companies Hitachi, Ltd. and Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy, Ltd. to make public the official withdrawal from the construction project of a new nuclear power plant in Visaginas region (Lithuania) on behalf of the decision of the Lithuanian people expressed in democratic referendum on 14 October 2012.

We inform you that 62.68 per cent of the people who voted in the referendum decided against any new nuclear power plants in Lithuania. Thus the Lithuanian people have decided to stop any development of the nuclear power plant project which was previously started by preliminary agreement signed between the Government of Lithuania and the Japanese company Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy Ltd. (alliance between Hitachi and US company GE Nuclear Energy Ltd.) on export of nuclear to Lithuania.

The Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania provides the possibility for the people to express their opinion on important state decisions. The parliament of Lithuania in the summer of 2012 decided to hold a referendum about new Visaginas nuclear power plant project. According to strict and demanding Lithuanian referendum law, the decision of referendum is legally binding. This therefore applies to the referendum on the Visaginas nuclear power plant. The Lithuanian people have expressed their deep interest in this decision and have made their choice.

We have warned your company and the Japanese government from signing any agreement with Lithuania before the referendum, and we have also expressed our arguments in our letter of concern, signed on December 23, 2011. In that letter we opposed any backing of the project by any direct or hidden subsidies of the Lithuanian Government, Government of Japan and the US Government which strongly contradict with principles of free market economy and fair competition in liberalized EU energy sector. Such subsidies distort investments into the energy sector, first of all into renewable energy sources and incentives for energy efficiency.

A large majority of Japanese society strongly opposes any further development of nuclear energy domestically. Therefore, we call on Japan to refrain from resorting to ‘double standards’ by giving support to Hitachi’s intention to export unsafe technologies.

We address the multinational Hitachi, Ltd. and Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy, Ltd. corporations with a call to respect corporate responsibility standards, the Lithuanian Constitution, democratic values and the will of people, and demand that Hitachi announce withdrawal from the Visaginas nuclear power plant project.

Linas VAINIUS, on behalf of Atgaya NGO
Tomas TOMILINAS, on behalf of the Lithuanian Farmers and Green Party
Andrius Gaidamavičius, on behalf of Lithuanian green movement
Laurynas Okockis, on behalf of Association ŽALI.LT

Aileen Mioko Smith, Executive Director, Green Action 
Yuki TANABE, Program Coordinator, Japan Center for a Sustainable Environment and Society (JACSES)
Eri WATANABE, Nuclear and Energy Program, Friends of the Earth Japan
Hideyuki BAN, Co-director, Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center
Contact in Lithuania:, +370 52 13 13 53, +370 686 27469, +370 699 33661, +370 654 73926

Contact in Japan: 
Aileen Mioko Smith, Executive Director Green Action
Suite 103, 22-75 Tanaka Sekiden-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8203 Japan
Tel. +81-75-701-7223 Fax.+81-75-702-1952
*Unless otherwise specified, photos are courtesy of Andrey Ozharovskiy

- Posted by Jen Teeter

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