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Protest greets Asian nuclear conference

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(April 27, 1990) On March 12 and 13, the First International Conference for Nuclear Cooperation in Asia, sponsored by Japan's Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) was held in Tokyo.

(331.3306) WISE Amsterdam - Representatives from China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, South Korea, Thailand, Australia, and Japan participated. Most of the delegates were Ministers of Technology or Energy, or headed nuclear commissions. According to the AEC the purpose of the conference was to assess needs in Asian countries and seek ways to cooperate in the field of medical and other uses of radiation as well as in nuclear power projects.

Participants expressed eagerness to cooperate in various fields of nuclear technology, but nothing specific was set up or decided. Delegates just reaffirmed their intention to cooperate and continue to exchange information. They will meet again in March next year, probably in Tokyo, to discuss the issues further.

Meanwhile, a group of people opposed to nuclear power gathered outside the conference building in downtown Tokyo to distribute leaflets to passers-by and voice their opposition through megaphones. Many of the participants in this peaceful demonstration were women, concerned not only about nuclear power plants in Japan but about the export of nuclear technology from Japan to Asian countries.

Since Indonesia has asked for Japanese Official Development Assistance (ODA) to conduct a feasibility study for a planned nuclear power plant in Java, the protesters also included groups critical of Japan's ODA projects, such as the ODA Research Group, Nuclear-Free Pacific Center Tokyo and the Rainforest Action Network. A protest statement, prepared by all the groups made the following points:

  • The Japanese nuclear industry Is searching for new markets in neighboring Asian countries as there is no prospect of expanding the domestic market in the face of widespread opposition to nuclear power. International cooperation in the nuclear field, as demonstrated by American companies in the Philippines, benefits only the donor country. The local people are forced to accept the technology, exposed to the hazards of radiation, and suffer from the financial difficulties.
  • ODA tends to be used as a means of profiting Japanese industry, not the local people or enterprises. It is now to be used as a means of developing nuclear power industries in Asian countries.
  • The export of nuclear power plants to Third World countries is likely to increase the risk of nuclear proliferation and the diversion of technology to military uses. This is demonstrated by the recent move of Pakistan to import plants from France.
  • For these reasons, we hereby demand the cancellation of this conference.

Sources: The above is reprinted from Nuke Info Tokyo, Mar/Apr 1990.

Contact: Citizens' Nuclear Information Center, 3F Watanabe Bldg. Higashiueno 2-23-22, Taito-ku, Tokyo 110, Japan, tel: 03-832-1976, fax: 03-832-4930.