Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has set aside his mentor and former prime minister Junichiro Koizumi’s suggestion to close down the country’s nuclear power industry, saying at this point it is “irresponsible to promise zero (nuclear power plants)”. He said the country is still not ready to totally rely on thermal power generation as it is still too expensive.
Speaking at a television program which aired on Thursday, Abe said the country is losing around 4 trillion yen ($41 billion) in national wealth a year due to the fact that all 50 nuclear reactors are currently offline, 48 of them since 2011 after the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. “We will be in big trouble if this continues,” he said. During a Lower House Budget meeting earlier this week, Abe was asked about Koizumi‘s opinions about nuclear energy and he said that while he considers the popular retired politician his teacher in politics (along with another former PM, Yoshiro Mori), he is now the person responsible for the government and so he will pursue a “responsible energy policy”.
During the Upper House budget committee meeting on Thursday, Tadatomo Yoshida, the leader of the Social Democratic Party again urged Abe, to move away from the current administration’s push for nuclear power generation and even showed photos of Koizumi and Abe’s wife Akie Abe, who is vocal about her opposition to nuclear power. Abe responded that those two are important to him but nuclear plants are still crucial for a “stable energy supply and economic activities.”
Koizumi has been pushing for the current government to start weaning itself away from nuclear energy. He said that while some say that from an economic standpoint it is irresponsible to do so, he believes it is even more irresponsible to push for nuclear power without even “any prospect of constructing disposal sites for nuclear waste.” Yoshida is considering asking for a meeting with Koizumi to find out how they can help each other in their campaign for zero nuclear plants. Kazuo Shii, chairman of the Japanese Communist Party’s executive committee, has also expressed interest in teaming up with Koizumi on that single issue because he believes they should cooperate with similar-minded people in order to push the agenda. Other politicians who have shown support for the cause are Your Party chief Yoshimi Watanabe, Ichiro Ozawa, leader of the People’s Life First Party, and former Prime Minister Naoto Kan of the Democratic Party of Japan.
[ via Asahi Shimbun ]