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Experts may feel OK over nukes but what about the people?

May 8, 2013


70% of nuclear experts still 'comfortable' with atomic power: survey



Some 70 percent of nuclear energy experts with the Atomic Energy Society of Japan (AESJ) remain "comfortable" with atomic power, while at the same time public confidence in the technology remains low, a society survey has revealed.

The AESJ began the annual survey of its members in fiscal 2006, and of the general public in fiscal 2007. The fiscal 2012 survey, conducted in January and February this year, queried 500 randomly selected residents of the Tokyo region and 559 AESJ members at universities and in the private sector.

In the fiscal 2010 survey, 86.5 percent of AESJ members queried said they were either "comfortable" or "somewhat comfortable" with atomic power generation. In the fiscal 2011 survey -- conducted after the March 2011 Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant meltdowns -- that figure dropped to 62 percent, but bounced back to 69.2 percent for fiscal 2012.

Meanwhile, only about 25 percent of the 500 members of the public agreed or somewhat agreed that Japan should keep using atomic power -- around the same rate as in the 2011 survey and half that of before the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Asked if Japan should keep using atomic power, some 92 percent of AESJ members said yes -- 6.6 points higher than in the fiscal 2011 survey and close to the pre-disaster level of around 95 percent.

"The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) included continuing atomic power in their election promises last year and won a huge victory, so I think nuclear experts might have regained some of their confidence in the technology," Kansai University professor of social psychology Shoji Tsuchida said of the survey results. "But it would be a mistake for them to think that the election results mean the public has signed off on nuclear energy."

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