Kaminoseki nuclear power plant: Iwaishima branch of prefectural fisheries cooperative agrees to accept compensation

Impact on opposition movement expected

by Tsuyoshi Kubota, Staff Writer

The Iwaishima branch of the Yamaguchi Prefectural Fisheries Cooperative Association has voted to accept compensation from the Chugoku Electric Power Company, which plans to construct a nuclear power plant in Kaminoseki in the prefecture. The Iwaishima branch had thus far declined to accept compensation. On February 28 the branch held a meeting in the local community center to discuss how to handle the compensation of approximately 1.08 billion yen, and in a secret ballot a majority of the members voted to accept it.

In April 2000 the boards of eight fisheries cooperative associations that held fishing rights in the vicinity of the proposed site of the nuclear power plant held a joint meeting at which all but the Iwaishima Fisheries Cooperative Association, which was then independent, agreed to accept a total of approximately 12.5 billion yen in compensation. Chugoku Electric paid the entire amount, but the Iwaishima association declined to accept its portion.

The Iwaishima branch opposes the utility’s plan to construct a nuclear power plant and had continued to decline to accept compensation, so this action marks a reversal of past votes on the issue. The amount of compensation to be paid to each member of the cooperative will be the subject of future discussions.

The movement opposing the nuclear power plant in Kaminoseki is based in Iwaishima, and the Iwaishima branch of the fisheries cooperative has played a central role in the fight against the plant. The cooperative’s acceptance of compensation is expected to have a major impact on the opposition movement. The funds that the Iwaishima branch had declined to accept are held by the association’s main office in Shimonoseki.

This was the fourth vote on compensation. Others were taken in February 2009, January 2010 and February 2012. In each of those past votes, those opposed outnumbered those in favor.

This time, 53 of the cooperative’s members, not including the chairman, participated in a secret ballot, and 31 voted in favor of accepting the compensation, while 21 were opposed. Eleven members voted by proxy ballot.

After the third vote, the Iwaishima branch decided it would no longer put the issue of compensation on its agenda. The latest vote was taken at the initiative of the cooperative’s main office.

The Iwaishima branch and the main office will now discuss how to determine the amount of compensation to be paid to each member. An official of the cooperative said that “the willingness of the members to accept compensation has been confirmed” and indicated the cooperative’s intention to go forward with the necessary procedures.

The majority of the approximately 500 residents of Iwaishima are believed to be against the plan to build the nuclear power plant. Takashi Yamato, deputy director of the local organization that opposes construction, said, “This outcome is disappointing, but the feelings of the many people of Iwaishima who have campaigned against the plant for 30 years remain unchanged. We will continue to oppose its construction.”

A representative of Chugoku Electric said, “The company has already paid compensation for fisheries, and we are not in a position to comment on how the funds are handled among the cooperatives.”

(Originally published on March 1, 2013)