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information about Fukushima published in English in Japanese media info publiée en anglais dans la presse japonaise

Don't ask them where they work

Gov't won't stop power company officials from taking part in energy policy polls



The government will not exclude power company officials from participating in the upcoming deliberative polls aimed at hearing public opinion on the country's future energy policy, it has been learned.

Criticism has arisen over the selection of participants in previous deliberative poll sessions, in which utility officials voiced their opinions in support of the promotion of nuclear power. The government, in response, had once decided to exclude utility workers from taking part in those hearings, but it determined that there will be no problem if utility workers happen to be chosen on a random basis in deliberative polling starting from Aug. 4.

The government is conducting deliberative polling on top of public hearings at 11 locations across the country over what percentage nuclear power should account for in the country's future energy mix by 2030 -- 0 percent, 15 percent, or 20-25 percent. In contrast to ordinary public hearings, deliberative polls allow participants to debate issues and deepen their understanding before they express their opinions.

The organizing committee for the deliberative polling conducted a nationwide telephone survey on men and women aged 20 or older between July 7 and 22, to which 6,849 responded. After confirming their will to participate in deliberative polling, 301 had become eligible to take part as of July 28. The committee said it asked respondents about their age, address and occupation, but that it withheld from asking the names of their workplaces, leaving the possibility that utility workers may be among participants of deliberative polling.

"If we screen participants, it'll be tantamount to manipulating public opinion and constitutes a 'set-up,'" said an official of the organizing committee.


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