14 Août 2012
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's party is arranging to make a nuclear phaseout a key policy pledge in the next general election, sources in the Democratic Party of Japan said.
The DPJ's plan comes amid widespread opposition to the continued use of nuclear energy. Noda has drawn strong public protests over his recent decision to approve the restart of two reactors at the Oi power plant in Fukui Prefecture, the first reactivations since all of the country's reactors went offline amid the Fukushima nuclear disaster that started last year.
Many DPJ lawmakers fear the ruling party, via the restarts, signalled to the public that it is keen on using nuclear power when this is not the case, a senior party member said Sunday.
DPJ members said earlier this month that the DPJ will set up a panel to discuss the potential pledge for the House of Representatives election, which Noda said last week will take place "soon."
The panel will probably be headed by DPJ policy chief Seiji Maehara. Some DPJ lawmakers say former Prime Minister Naoto Kan, who has taken an increasingly antinuclear stance since the crisis started at the Fukushima No. 1 plant during his watch, should become an adviser to the new body.
To government is weighing three options for a new energy mix by 2030, including having nuclear power provide zero percent of Japan's total energy, or 15 percent, or between 20 and 25 percent. The state has also held hearings to gauge public opinion, which has strongly come out in favor of the first option.
Over 60 percent of the Japanese public thinks the country should give up nuclear power, a recent Jiji Press survey said.
About half of the respondents opposed restarting the dozens of idled nuclear reactors.
The survey covered 1,211 men and women 20 or older across the country between July 6 and 16.
In face-to-face interviews, respondents rated their attitudes toward various issues related to nuclear energy on a scale of zero to 10, with 5 meaning "neither agree or disagree."
Of the respondents, 62.6 percent opposed the use of nuclear energy, giving scores between zero and 4, with 17.8 percent saying they think Japan should idle all nuclear plants immediately.
By contrast, 9.7 percent assigned scores between 6 and 10 suggesting that Japan should continue using nuclear.
The results of the survey, the ninth by the news agency on national nuclear power use since May 2011, showed parallels with the previous surveys.
The poll was the fourth of its kind since March on sentiment toward restarting reactors halted chiefly for routine checks.
In the survey, 50.5 percent opposed resumption, with scores below 5. The figure dropped 8 percentage points from the March survey. About a fifth, or 21.4 percent, gave zero support for restarts.