Japan PM Abe supports new nuclear reactors: reports

Updated 01 January 2013
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Japan PM Abe supports new nuclear reactors: reports

TOKYO: Japan’s new prime minister Shinzo Abe has voiced his willingness to build new nuclear reactors, reports said Monday, despite widespread public opposition to atomic energy since the Fukushima crisis.
During an interview Sunday with television network TBS, Abe said new reactors would be different from those at Fukushima that were crippled by the earthquake and tsunami of 2011, according to major news outlets including the Nikkei business daily and Kyodo News.
“New reactors will be totally different from the ones built 40 years ago, those at the Fukushima Daiichi plant that caused the crisis,” Abe said in the interview, according to the Mainichi Shimbun daily.
“We will be building them while earning the understanding of the public as to how different they are,” he was quoted by the Nikkei as saying.
It was the first time since Abe took office last Wednesday that he has voiced support for new construction, although his pro-business government had been widely expected to restart Japan’s stalled nuclear program.
The day after being installed, his administration began signalling an about-face on the previous government’s policy of working toward a phasing out of atomic power, with a key minister speaking of a policy review.
Abe’s conservative Liberal Democratic Party won a landslide victory in an election in December with promises to revive the economy. It benefited from voters’ desire to punish the previous administration of Yoshihiko Noda.
While most major parties in the poll set their stalls against nuclear power, none gained enough electoral weight to counter the vote for the LDP.
The LDP in its manifesto remained vague on the issue, pledging to “decide” on restarts within three years.
Currently, all but two of Japan’s 50 reactors are shuttered for safety checks and must get the blessing of a new regulator before being restarted.
In the interview Abe did not clarify when or where new reactors might be built.
He took pains to say only the Fukushima reactors had been damaged by the 9.0 earthquake-triggered tsunami in March 2011 while other regional power plants were undamaged.
He reportedly reiterated a belief that the ballot outcome reflected the electorate’s trust in LDP policies.
“The public seem worried about how we can meet the immediate demand for electricity,” Abe said.
“That’s why voters did not trust (candidates) who played word games, like pushing for ‘ending’ nuclear power or ‘graduating’ from nuclear power,” Abe said, according to the Yomiuri.
Abe’s remarks came the day after he visited the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi plant, where operator Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) has thousands of workers trying to contain the mess left by reactor meltdowns.
During the visit he described the clean-up at Fukushima as “an unprecedented challenge in human history.”
The government and TEPCO expect to spend more than 30 years decommissioning the crippled reactors, which spewed out radioactive materials over a wide area and forced tens of thousands of people to evacuate their homes.
Critics have said the LDP was partly responsible for the extent of the Fukushima catastrophe because of a culture of complicity during its more than five-decade rule.
hih/hg/sm


Trump’s travel ban faces US Supreme Court showdown

Updated 22 April 2018
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Trump’s travel ban faces US Supreme Court showdown

  • The high court has never decided the legal merits of the travel ban.
  • The challengers have argued the policy was motivated by Trump’s enmity toward Muslims.

WASHINGTON: The first big showdown at the US Supreme Court over President Donald Trump’s immigration policies is set for Wednesday when the justices hear a challenge to the lawfulness of his travel ban targeting people from several Muslim-majority countries.
The case represents a test of the limits of presidential power. Trump’s policy, announced in September, blocks entry into the US of most people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. Chad previously was on the list but Trump lifted those restrictions on April 10.
The high court has never decided the legal merits of the travel ban or any other major Trump immigration policy, including his move to rescind protections for young immigrants sometimes called Dreamers brought into the US illegally as children. It has previously acted on Trump requests to undo lower court orders blocking those two policies, siding with him on the travel ban and opposing him on the Dreamers. Trump’s immigration policies — also including actions taken against states and cities that protect illegal immigrants, intensified deportation efforts and limits on legal immigration — have been among his most contentious. 
The conservative-majority Supreme Court is due to hear arguments on Wednesday on the third version of a travel ban policy Trump first sought to implement a week after taking office in January 2017, and issue a ruling by the end of June. 
The lead challenger is the state of Hawaii, which argues the ban violates federal immigration law and the US Constitution’s prohibition on the government favoring one religion over another.
“Right now, the travel ban is keeping families apart. It is degrading our values by subjecting a specific set of people to be denigrated and marginalized,” Hawaii Lt. Governor Doug Chin said in an interview.
The Supreme Court on Dec. 4 signaled it may lean toward backing Trump when it granted the administration’s request to let the ban go into full effect while legal challenges played out.
In another immigration-related case, the justices on April 17 invalidated a provision in a US law requiring deportation of immigrants convicted of certain crimes of violence. Trump’s administration and the prior Obama administration had defended the provision.
'Politically correct'
Trump has said the travel ban is needed to protect the US from terrorism by militants. Just before the latest ban was announced, Trump wrote on Twitter that the restrictions “should be far larger, tougher and more specific — but stupidly that would not be politically correct!“
The challengers have argued the policy was motivated by Trump’s enmity toward Muslims, pressing that point in lower courts with some success by citing statements he made as a candidate and as president. As a candidate, Trump promised “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”
The Justice Department argues Trump’s statements as a candidate carry no weight because he was not yet president. The policy’s challengers also point to views he has expressed as president, including his retweets in November of anti-Muslim videos posted by a far-right British political figure.
In a court filing last week, US Solicitor General Noel Francisco, representing Trump in court, said those retweets “do not address the meaning” of the travel ban policy.
Francisco cited Trump statements complimentary toward Muslims and Islam, including in a May 2017 speech in Saudi Arabia.
In defending the ban, the administration has pointed to a waiver provision allowing people from targeted countries to seek entry if they meet certain criteria. The State Department said that as of last month 375 waivers to the travel ban had been granted since the policy went into effect on Dec 8.