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Restart & Abenomics

 June 6, 2013


Momentum builds for LDP to push for nuclear reactor reactivation to back 'Abenomics'



Momentum is building quickly for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) to press for reactivating nuclear reactors that were shut down following the outbreak of the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant in a move to throw its weight behind Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's economic policy mix, dubbed "Abenomics."

In its draft "growth strategy," the government says it will "utilize nuclear reactors whose safety has been confirmed." A majority of lawmakers within the LDP have voiced support for measures to place priority on stable energy supply in a bid to prop up "Abenomics." On the backdrop of Abe's penchant for reactivation of nuclear reactors and mounting concerns among local governments hosting nuclear plants over the cooling of their local economies, momentum is building quickly for the LDP to seek reactivation of nuclear reactors.

"The Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) has been making demands one after another, but this legislators' group needs to discuss whether such demands are necessary from a scientific viewpoint," Hiroyuki Hosoda, executive acting secretary general of the LDP, told a meeting on June 5 of the LDP legislators' group that advocates for the promotion of a stable power supply.

The LDP legislators' group was launched with about 90 members on May 14. It is a core group that pushes for reactivation of nuclear reactors. It is comprised of many veteran lawmakers from those prefectures that host nuclear power stations, including Hosoda from the Shimane No. 1 district and former LDP Vice President Tadamori Oshima from the Aomori No. 3 district.

During the ordinary Diet session last year, the LDP, which was in the opposition camp at the time, criticized the then ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) for its handling of the Fukushima nuclear disaster and took the lead in debate in favor of establishing a nuclear regulatory body with a high degree of independence. In its election manifesto for last year's House of Representatives election, the LDP said, "We will place top priority on the NRA's decisions and decide on whether to reactivate nuclear reactors within three years." Although LDP lawmakers are deeply dissatisfied with the NRA over its refusal to soften its harsh stance toward power companies, they would have to respect new regulatory standards due to take effect in July.

On the other hand, the LDP is concerned about the likelihood that it will take a long time to reactivate nuclear reactors after applications are filed as the NRA is likely to evaluate the applications very carefully.

Tsuyoshi Takagi, LDP lower house lawmaker, became increasingly frustrated and said, "It is unfortunate if no decision is made and reactors remain abandoned." The LDP, therefore, plans to press the government to improve the NRA's way of evaluating applications for reactivation of nuclear reactors before the current Diet session ends on June 26.

The LDP has come increasingly forward to press for reactivation of nuclear reactors as it said in its draft election promises for the upcoming House of Councillors election that "the government will take responsibility for reactivating nuclear reactors" while taking heed of its manifesto for last year's lower house election.

On the government's draft "growth strategy," a senior member of the LDP legislators' group expressed its intention to press the government even harder through the LDP Policy Research Council to reactivate nuclear reactors, saying, "There are only a few references to reactivation of nuclear reactors. The issue must be placed in a firm position."



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