In December 2013, the Japanese government under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe released a draft of what would be the country’s basic energy policy – the first one to be released after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011. In the draft, it was stated that the country would still be relying on nuclear energy in the foreseeable future. As public comments in response to the draft policy poured in, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper says that there was “massive public opposition” to the plan, and that the Abe administration may have ignored the overwhelming negative public sentiment.
After making public the basic energy policy draft, the government allowed the public to respond to it for a month, accepting comments via e-mail, faxes, and other communication methods, until January 6. According to the data released by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, the government collected around 19,000 responses from the Japanese public. When the Abe administration reported on these comments in February, it did not say how many of the comments were either in support of or against nuclear power. So the Asahi Shimbun, claiming its right via information disclosure law, asked for the ministry to release the responses.
The ministry then made public around 2,109 emails, which they stated were sent to the ministry early during the period for public response. The Asahi Shimbun then proceeded to count how many of the emails were in agreement to nuclear power, and also how many were against it. The results show that 2,008 of the emails – around 95 percent – stated opposition to nuclear power usage. “We paid attention not to the number of comments for or against nuclear power generation but to the contents of those comments,” said Toshimitsu Motegi, industry minister, in February. Those emails that agreed with nuclear power numbered only 33, making up a mere 1.5 percent.
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