While the Liberal Democratic Party seeks to stand out from its competition in the upcoming Upper House elections, this is one issue that may actually hurt them. In a public debate on June 29, the ruling party was the only one among nine who opposes a zero nuclear policy.
The debate in Osaka gathered all the parties that will be competing in the upcoming elections on July 21 to discuss various issues, like economic policy and constitutional revision. When asked whether they favor a future in which Japan has no nuclear plants operating at all, LDP Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba was the lone voice who voted “No”. He defended his vote by saying that if there are no nuclear plants, there would be a noticeable increase in energy costs and carbon dioxide emissions. He says this would also further worsen the country’s trade balance. He says the government “cannot make responsible political decisions,” unless they take into consideration the negative aspects of a zero nuclear policy.
But Yasuko Komiyama, the Diet affairs committee chairperson for the People’s Life Party, begs to disagree. He says that once they have decided to permanently shut down all nuclear reactors in the country, then they will focus on research and development into alternative sources of sustainable energy. Tadatomo Yoshida, acting secretary-general for the Social Democratic Party believes that the fact that only 2 out of 50 nuclear reactors are online proves that the country can survive on electricity “without operating any nuclear reactors.”
Anti-nuclear sentiment has been spreading across the country ever since the 2011 meltdown in Fukushima, the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl. While the government shut down 48 of the country’s nuclear reactors due to safety concerns, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the LDP have been actively seeking to restore the offline reactors. Four electric power companies are expected to apply to restart 12 nuclear reactors when the Nuclear Regulation Authority enforces the new safety standards by July 8.
[ via Asahi Shimbun ]
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