In response to public concern about the great earthquake that hit NPPs in Fukushima on March 11, the governor of Yamaguchi Prefecture, who had granted permission to Chugoku Electric Power Company to begin sea reclamation work for the Kaminoseki Nuclear Power Plant, asked the company to suspend the work. Indicating its reluctance to respond to the request, the company is still sending a small number of workers to the site to evaluate the earthquake risk of the site.
Before the earthquake struck Chugoku Electric was forging ahead in the face of strong protests.
On Sunday, February 20, 2011, the People of Iwaishima’s Association against the Kaminoseki Nuclear Station released an urgent notice on its blog: “We expect Chugoku Electric Power to come to restart sea reclamation work tomorrow, with hundreds of workers.” Chugoku Electric had never been to the planned NPP site with such a large number of people.
As was expected, Chugoku Electric Power appeared on February 21. About two o’clock in the morning, 400 workers showed up on the seashore where the Kaminoseki Nuclear Power Station is proposed. Although it made no substantial progress in sea reclamation because of protest by Iwaishima islanders and others, the power company announced that they had duly restarted reclamation work.
At the site, Chugoku Electric also announced that those who hindered the reclamation work would be placed under the sanction of payment of 5 million yen. The company had applied for a provisional injunction against 12 protesters with the Yamaguchi District Court, and the court made a decision in favor of the company on the day. Also on the same day, the company applied for another provisional injunction, claiming that any fishing boats and kayaks should not interfere with the company’s ships in the waters near the proposed NPP site. Criticism is arising that the application is a SLAPP suit (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation).
The reason why the appearance of Chugoku Electric, the court decision, and the application occurred on the same day is unknown.
The tense standoff continued until the afternoon of February 23, when two protesters were injured. According to the People of Iwaishima’s Association, they were crushed by security guards when they tried to stop workers from driving piles on the shore.
While mass media has been ignoring what is happening in Kaminoseki, the news is spreading on the Internet. Ustream channel Mangetsu TV was live broadcasting from the NPP site and showed the crush in real time. There were more than 1,000 viewers when it occurred. Opinions and thoughts were exchanged on Twitter.
The movie Mitsubachi no Haoto to Chikyu no Kaiten (“The hum of the honeybee and the rotation of the Earth”), which features Iwaishima islanders’ protest against the Kaminoseki NPP project, opened in Tokyo on February 19, two days before Chugoku Electric appeared en masse. As an increasing number of people learn of the controversy, the theater has decided to prolong the period of the show.
In protest against the power company’s unscrupulous move, Diet members, citizens concerned with nuclear power, and conservationists took urgent actions. At least two groups of citizens visited Chugoku Electric’s Tokyo office and one group visited its head office in Hiroshima, demanding that the company suspend sea reclamation work.
An emergency gathering was held in a Diet members’ building in Tokyo. Nine Diet members participated, showing the strong interest in the issue. The Japan Civil Network for Convention on Biological Diversity (JCN-CBD) also organized an urgent gathering. Pointing out that Japan was the host country of the COP10 Convention on Biological Diversity (held in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture in October 2010), JCN-CBD demanded that the Japanese government make utmost efforts to meet the Aichi Targets adopted at the conference and review the Kaminoseki NPP project, which would destroy the environmentally valuable area in Kaminoseki. These gatherings were live broadcasted by Ustream.
(Network of Citizens for the Cancellation of the Kaminoseki NPP Project and for the Preservation of the Seto Inland Sea Area)