エネルギー選択 「意識調査」はあくまで参考に

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Aug. 27, 2012)
Don’t take results of nuclear power surveys too seriously
エネルギー選択 「意識調査」はあくまで参考に(8月26日付・読売社説)

It is problematic to decide the nation’s energy strategy, which affects the fate of Japan, through an approach that resembles a popularity contest.

Since the outbreak of the crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, a considerable number of people are demanding the nation break away from its dependence on nuclear energy.

Securing the safety of nuclear power plants is of course important. However, factors such as economic efficiency and a stable energy supply are also important in deciding the nation’s energy policy. As a country poor in natural resources, Japan needs to have various sources of electricity, including nuclear power plants, to ensure a stable power supply.

Thus the government should promote a realistic energy policy of utilizing nuclear power plants from a mid- and long-term standpoint.

The government recently released the results of multiple surveys that asked the public to choose from three scenarios on the percentage of nuclear power generation in 2030: zero percent of all power generation, 15 percent, and 20 percent to 25 percent.

The government conducted 11 public hearings, solicited public comments and held a deliberative opinion poll. In all three methods, those who chose the zero percent scenario outnumbered those who selected the other two.


Avoid slipping into populism

However, it is too early to conclude that the results truly reflect public opinion on the nation’s nuclear energy policy.

Many people who participate in public hearings and submit comments are eager to express their opinions on the nuclear power plant issue. They tend to prefer a nuclear-free future.

A random telephone survey was conducted in the first stage of the deliberative opinion poll, and respondents were asked if they wished to participate in the following discussion stage. Only about 300 people participated in the second stage.

It is important for politicians to listen to the voices of the people. However, there is a risk that politicians may slip into populism, depending on how much they rely on public opinion.

A member of an expert panel tasked with analyzing the results of the surveys said, “We don’t need politics if opinion polls decide everything.”

The results of the surveys should be used as one element in discussing the nation’s nuclear policy. The government should avoid having the results directly influence its energy policy.


Risks of zero percent scenario

Meanwhile, the surveys also highlighted a problem the government has to tackle. In the deliberative opinion poll, 41 percent of respondents supported the zero percent scenario before the discussion, but the figure increased to 47 percent after the discussion.

At the same time, the percentage of people who gave top priority to “securing safety” in the nation’s energy policy increased after the discussion to about 80 percent. This change seems to be the reason why the number of people who chose the zero percent scenario increased.

However, everyone is highly concerned about the safety of the energy supply. We assume that was the reason only a low percentage of respondents chose “stable energy supply” and “prevention of global warming.”

If all nuclear power plants were abolished in the nation, it would slow down the economy, resulting in higher unemployment and poverty. Ordinary citizens would be hit hardest, but strangely, understanding of this fact has yet to spread among the public.

Along with beefing up its efforts to enhance the safety of nuclear power plants, the government must provide information to citizens that helps them choose appropriate scenarios for the nation’s future energy policy.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 26, 2012)
(2012年8月26日01時28分 読売新聞)

srachai について

early retired civil engineer migrated from Tokyo to Thailand
カテゴリー: 英字新聞 パーマリンク



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