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Nukes become issue again in governor race

May 24, 2018

Nuclear policy in focus as campaigning begins in Niigata governor race




NIIGATA, Japan (Kyodo) -- Official campaigning began Thursday for next month's gubernatorial election in Niigata, with three contenders filing their candidacies for a race that could have a bearing on the possible restart of the world's largest nuclear power plant.


Voters in the central Japan prefecture could also effectively hand down a judgment on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe following the recent series of scandals involving his administration including allegations of cronyism against the prime minister over a heavily discounted land sale and a vet school project.


The three candidates running for the June 10 election are Satoshi Annaka, a 40-year-old independent and former city assembly member from Gosen, Niigata; Hideyo Hanazumi, 60, backed by Abe's Liberal Democratic Party; and anti-nuclear former prefectural assembly member Chikako Ikeda, 57, endorsed by five opposition parties.


The LDP's junior coalition partner Komeito is expected to support Hanazumi, who has yet to clearly state whether he would approve the restart of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant, sought by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.


Delivering a speech in the city of Niigata, Ikeda pledged to seek ways to "break with nuclear power" and promote the use of renewable energy. She also said she will continue safety checks of the nuclear plant and share the results with the public for a thorough discussion.


Hanazumi told an audience in the village of Awashimaura that he will improve medical and welfare services. "I will do all I can do to create a lively and comfortable prefecture to live in."


Annaka is opposed to nuclear power and has vowed to enhance agricultural policies.

The election comes after former Governor Ryuichi Yoneyama, who was reluctant to restart the nuclear complex, stepped down last month just before a weekly magazine disclosed that he had been paying several women for sex.


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