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.
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British PM faces Brexit showdown with pro-EU rebels

Updated 20 June 2018
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British PM faces Brexit showdown with pro-EU rebels

  • MPs will vote on amendments to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill setting out how much power lawmakers will have if the government fails to agree a departure deal before Brexit in March 2019
  • The vote, due on Wednesday afternoon or early evening, could have implications for Britain’s wider Brexit strategy, indicating where the power lies in parliament

LONDON: British Prime Minister Theresa May faces a showdown with her pro-EU MPs on Wednesday over parliament’s role in the final Brexit deal, which could influence her entire negotiation strategy.
MPs will vote on amendments to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill setting out how much power lawmakers will have if the government fails to agree a departure deal before Brexit in March 2019.
May says she expects to get an agreement with Brussels, but warned that any attempt to tie her hands could undermine the ongoing negotiations.
She averted a rebellion by pro-EU MPs in her Conservative Party on the issue of parliamentary powers last week with a promise of a compromise, but within days they had rejected her proposal as inadequate.
Instead they worked with peers to introduce their own amendment to the unelected upper House of Lords, which agreed it by a landslide on Monday.
The amendment now returns to MPs in the elected lower House of Commons, where Conservative rebels will ally with opposition parties in a bid to finally make it law.
May’s spokesman refused to say if he believes the government has the numbers to win the vote, but made clear that no more concessions would be forthcoming.
“We cannot accept the amendment on a meaningful vote agreed in the Lords,” he said, adding that it “would undermine our ability in the negotiations to get the best deal for the country.”
“We will be retabling our original amendment,” he said, adding: “We hope that all MPs will be able to support the government’s position.”
The vote, due on Wednesday afternoon or early evening, could have implications for Britain’s wider Brexit strategy, indicating where the power lies in parliament.
May commands only a slim majority in the 650-seat Commons, made possible through an alliance with Northern Ireland’s 10 Democratic Unionist Party MPs.
A victory for the pro-EU rebels would embolden them ahead of debates next month on Britain’s future trading relationship with the European Union, which they are seeking to keep as close as possible.
It would likely anger euroskeptics, who accuse the rebels of seeking to thwart Brexit.
They are also becoming increasingly frustrated with the withdrawal process under May’s leadership.
Leading Conservative rebel Dominic Grieve denied he was trying to undermine the government or stop Brexit, but warned that if parliament rejected the final Brexit deal, there would be a crisis.
“That’s what wakes me up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat,” he told Sky News television.
“The very reason I’ve prompted this amendment is to provide a mechanism to make sure that we don’t come to government collapse immediately.”
But euroskeptic Conservative MP Graham Stringer said Grieve and his supporters were only interested in “sabotaging the whole process.”
“The purpose of the latest Grieve ruse is to give parliament the power to delay or stop Brexit,” he said.
Despite agreement on Britain’s financial settlement and EU citizens’ rights, the Brexit talks are progressing slowly, and there are few hopes of a breakthrough at an EU summit later this month.
Both sides are still publicly aiming for an agreement in October, but this is looking more and more difficult.
Negotiations are currently stalled on how to avoid border checks between Northern Ireland, a part of the UK, and neighboring EU member Ireland when Britain develops its own trade and customs policies.
“Serious divergences” remain over Northern Ireland, the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier said Tuesday after a final round of talks between London and Brussels ahead of the European summit.
The British government has also yet to decide on what it wants from the future economic relationship.
It has been clear about one area, security cooperation — but many of its proposals were on Tuesday knocked back by Barnier.
He said Britain could not stay in the European Arrest Warrant, take part in meetings of policing agency Europol or access EU-only police databases.
“We need more realism about what is and what is not possible,” he said.