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Foundation supporting renewable energy business operators to be set up in Fukushima

FUKUSHIMA -- Corporations and organizations working to promote renewable energy in the wake of the nuclear meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant announced Jan. 8 that they will establish a fund to support renewable energy projects in the prefecture.

    A foundation to operate the Fukushima shizen energy kikin (Fukushima natural energy fund) will be founded as early as the end of February, and donations will be accepted beginning in early March. The group is also planning to build a museum to pass down lessons learned from the nuclear disaster to future generations.

    The chief representative for the group is Yauemon Sato, the president of Aizu Electric Power Co., which promotes solar power generation in the Aizu region of Fukushima Prefecture. Sato, along with Tetsunari Iida, executive director of the nonprofit organization Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies (ISEP), and Tsuyoshi Yoshiwara, adviser to Jonan Shinkin Bank who has continued to call for Japan to phase out nuclear power, made the announcement at a press conference in Fukushima. Internationally renowned musician Ryuichi Sakamoto is also among the fund's founders.

    It was a donation of approximately 3 million yen received from a German civic energy company that prompted Aizu Electric Power's Sato to propose that the fund be set up. Not only will the foundation provide funds to renewable energy business operators, but will also be involved in the development of business plans and in helping companies and organizations work with each other. The aim is for the fund to reach several billion yen in scale; the foundation will also call for land donations.

    Since the outbreak of the nuclear disaster, the Fukushima Prefectural Government has set a goal of switching all energy sources within the prefecture to renewable energy by the year 2040. "It's important that the nuclear phase-out begins with Fukushima," Sato said. "We want to achieve recovery based on natural energy through civic power -- without relying on government agencies."

    A symposium with former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi -- who in recent years has been calling for the elimination of nuclear power -- will be held March 9 to commemorate the foundation's launch. For more information, contact ISEP at 03-5942-8937.

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