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EDITORIAL: Court ruling on Oi nuclear plant should be accepted via The Asahi Shimbun

The catastrophic accident three years ago revealed “the true nature of risks inherent in nuclear power technology and the scale of damage” that a serious nuclear accident can cause, Higuchi said.

“If the court avoided making a judgment on whether there is even a million-to-one chance of such an accident happening (at the Oi plant), it would amount to a dereliction of duty,” he added.

Presiding over a case involving nuclear power requires considerable expertise. In past rulings, Japanese courts tended to accept what the plant operator and the government claimed at face value.

The catastrophic accident three years ago revealed “the true nature of risks inherent in nuclear power technology and the scale of damage” that a serious nuclear accident can cause, Higuchi said.

“If the court avoided making a judgment on whether there is even a million-to-one chance of such an accident happening (at the Oi plant), it would amount to a dereliction of duty,” he added.

We give high marks to the Fukui District Court’s decision. It suggests that the court is taking its role as vital guardian of the law very seriouslyafter the nuclear disaster.

What is especially notable about the ruling is that it is based entirely on the viewpoint of protecting the lives and livelihoods of people.

Kansai Electric argued that the reactors need to be brought back online to ensure a stable supply of electricity and to cut costs.

But the court ruling roundly criticized the utility’s argument.

“It is legally unacceptable to discuss people’s rights concerning their very existence and economic concerns about electricity rates in the same terms,” the court said.

The ruling also rejected the argument that “suspending nuclear power generation is detrimental to the national interest because it will lead to increasing Japan’s trade deficit and drain of national wealth.”

It said, “National wealth means that people can live lives firmly rooted in rich land.”

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