Earlier in August, former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi visited Germany – a nation that has decided to give up on the use of nuclear power – and Finland, which continues to rely on nuclear technology. The 71-year-old former leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has made his opinion known after the trip that he is for the abandonment of nuclear power.
Koizumi has retired from politics, and his seat in the Diet is now held by his son, Shinjiro Koizumi. But he remains an influential personality in Japanese politics, and it is certain that his comments will attract the attention of the country’s media. Koizumi was accompanied on this specific trip by four executives from the nuclear divisions of Toshiba, Hitachi, and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries – companies that continue to manufacture and export Japan’s nuclear technology. One of these executives reportedly asked the elderly statesman if he agrees to keeping nuclear power in Japan, and also influence others to that position. “If I was back in the Diet in my old job, trying to persuade undecided members on the nuclear power issue, I don’t think I’d have it in me to convince them that Japan needs nuclear power,” Koizumi reportedly replied to the executive. “But after seeing what I’ve seen on this trip, I think I could persuade those members to move toward zero nuclear power. I’m more confident of that all the time,” he added.
Koizumi noted the ongoing construction of Finland’s Onkalo project, a facility that would store nuclear waste for thousands of years. This Finnish project is by far the only long-term solution for nuclear waste being worked on, but the challenge that the facility is taking on – storing waste for 100,000 years – is a very big one. “A hundred thousand years! We’re talking about rethinking our approach three centuries from now, but by then everyone will be dead,” Koizumi said, marveling at the seeming impracticality of a similar project in Japan. “In any case, there’s no place to put this stuff in Japan, so zero nuclear power is the only option,” he contends.
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