Those who say that Japan is planning to relinquish usage of the nuclear power are misleading Lithuanian public, because it is not the case. Nevertheless, one thing is certain; Japan is going to pay extra attention to the safety of nuclear power plants, hence, Lithuanians should not be afraid of nuclear power from Japan, Ambassador of Japan, Her Excellency Kazuko Shiraishi said to the Lithuania Tribune. The Japanese Ambassador also assured that Hitachi is planning to provide Visaginas Nuclear Power Plant with the latest and the most advanced technology; therefore, the Lithuanian voters should keep those aspects in mind while voting in the referendum.
How long have you been in Lithuania for?
I have been in Lithuania for more than 7 months. I’m still a newcomer.
What are the ways of peaceful solution to the dispute with the Peoples’ Republic of China over the Senkaku islands?
As Prime Minister Noda told at the United Nations General Assembly last month, the issue must be solved by reason, and not by force. The rule of law is important because it is the basis for global peace, stability and prosperity, and any attempt to realize a country’s ideology or claim by unilateral use of force or threat is inconsistent with the fundamental spirit of the UN Charter. Japan always values the rule of law and contributed to strengthening it. Japan, under any circumstances, is determined to comply with the principle and seek solutions based on international law.
What are the most important aspects of Lithuanian-Japanese cooperation in politics, economy and culture, apart from Visaginas Nuclear Power Station?
Here also, I have to talk about the Visaginas Nuclear Power Station. We re-established diplomatic relations in the year 1991 but I am not so satisfied with the level of relations, especially with respect to economic relations. Talking about cultural relations, I have found that many Lithuanian people are fond of Japanese culture, both traditional and modern. I am very happy to meet with these people who like Japanese culture but in comparison with the size of the Japanese economy, the level of trade is still low. It the Visaginas Nuclear Power Plant is going ahead, moving on, I am very sure that we can break through this status quoin terms of the level of economic relations.
On Wednesday, October 3rd, it was announced that in the Akita region (Japan), some shale gas was found, about 100 million cubic metres. It’s quite significant finding because it is expected, according to some predictions, there will be more around it. And for Lithuania, it is also possible to have some shale gas. What would you say about some Japanese companies that are going to look after that shale gas? How high have they developed their expertise in it? Do you have a lot of expertise in shale gas exploration in Japan?
I am sorry, we don’t have a lot of experience in that, as far as I understand. The shale gas (found) in Japan is just one day demand of Japanese energy requirements, so you said that we found some shale gas in the Sea of Japan but the amount is not enough at all for the necessity of Japanese daily life like for industry. I want to emphasize one thing, we are a very poor country, in terms of natural resources, although Japanese economy is now the world’s third largest economy but we started the economic development from scratch. Our economy rose from ashes and rubble after the Second World War. In the year 1969, Japan became the second largest economy after the United States but we are confident that the largest factor of Japanese post-war rehabilitation is mainly due to its strength in technological innovation.
Talking about energy, from what I understand, the Japanese Government is coming to the conclusion that Japan would like to get rid of dependency on nuclear power energy by the 2030s. What would you advise to the Lithuanian people, possibly planning to built a nuclear power station? Is nuclear power a thing of the past or do you think it still is a thing of the future?
It is true that last September, the Japanese Government drafted a report called “Innovative Strategy for Energy and Environment”; in that report, a guideline was shown that Japan is aiming for a society not dependent on nuclear energy. However, 5 days later, Japan’s Cabinet as a whole did not approve this report. Just Japan’s Cabinet made a decision that the Government of Japan is taking into account this report. So, we have no decision yet. Of course, once the direction was shown by this strategy that we are aiming at this (type) of society. But, this is taken into account. Of course, I would like to emphasize that the strategy emphasized that Japan is responsible for strengthening nuclear safety in the world, because we had a nuclear power plant accident in March of last year. Japan is a country which is responsible for conveying and sharing experiences and lessons derived from this Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant accident. If other foreign countries wish to use nuclear technology, which at the highest level, with respect to the safety, we are ready, we would like to offer the highest and safest technology.
The European Commission, have made various safety tests and almost all nuclear power plants in Europe were found to be unsafe. This strategy has a lot of potential for Japan to improve their security and secure nuclear power energy….
I would like to introduce our direction. As of today, we have 54 nuclear reactors. 2 reactors, we’ve restarted, after very detailed stress-tests and third party committee checked the safety. In the future, we may restart the remaining reactors, just after the third party’s checks verifications.
Perhaps you’ve heard that in Lithuania, some of the opponents of the Visaginas Nuclear Power Station (VNPP) have said that Hitachi agreed on building a nuclear power station in Lithuania, only because it cannot sell this technology anywhere else. What would you say to that?
Yes, I have heard those kinds of arguments and opinions. But, Hitachi repeatedly explained to the Lithuanian public thatthis will be a new nuclear power plant. Hitachi will make the development from scratch. Hitachi has no room to use remaining parts or remaining equipment which Hitachi has now.
So, everything is going to be new…..
Yes, it’s going to be produced for the brand new power plant, exclusively produced for the new Visaginas Power Plant. Hitachi is not only a company for building a nuclear power plant. Hitachi is a huge company and as far as I understand, just only 2% of revenue of Hitachi comes from nuclear power plant division. So, the opposition of that argument is not correct at all.
Negotiations with Hitachi have moved on satisfactorily and have come a long way, during this government. Still, the Social Democratic party has declared quite openly that they are in favour of nuclear development in Lithuania but they are against this particular project. They have said so a few times already. Having in mind that possibly, this party might form a new government quite soon…What effect of a possible decision by this government to terminate the negotiations with Hitachi might have on Lithuania’s international reputation?
I will not comment on such a very hypothetical question, I am sorry to say. But, I hope that Lithuanian people, including the Social Democrats, understand the significance of nuclear security, energy independence and also the advantage of (having) diversified energy resources for every country’s economy.