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Koizumi Declares Abe Behind the Curve on Nuclear Energy

SNA (Tokyo) — Seven years after the Great East Japan Earthquake and the ensuing nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, the Federation of Promotion of Zero-Nuclear Power and Renewable Energy (Genjiren) continues its campaign for the end of nuclear power in Japan. Junichiro Koizumi, former Japanese prime minister and Genjiren advisor, says that a non-nuclear future for Japan has both the feasibility and widespread support for implementation—but not under the Abe administration.

Japan has a long history of support for nuclear power. Even Koizumi himself was a strong proponent of nuclear energy during his tenure as prime minister from 2001 to 2006. However, after the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown in 2011, he, like many other Japanese citizens, became disenchanted with the idea of nuclear power as the source of Japanese energy policy. After studying and reflecting on the issue, Koizumi identifies three “lies” that proponents of nuclear power use to advocate their case:

1. Japan’s nuclear power plants are safe

2. Nuclear power is a cost-effective energy source

3. Nuclear power is an indefinite source of clean energy that does not emit carbon dioxide

Japanese people are becoming increasingly aware of the reality of this deception, and, with public support, a future with zero nuclear power is entirely plausible. When nuclear plants were shut down after the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown, Japan experienced no blackouts—a fact that gives Koizumi “complete confidence” that Japan can realize a nuclear-free future. Furthermore, the fall of nuclear power in Japan presents an opportunity for Japanese policy to shift towards an emphasis on renewable energy, including wind, solar, and geothermal energy.

Despite shifting public opinion, the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry continues to support nuclear power, with plans to maintain it at 20-22%. “Unfortunately,” Koizumi says, “In regard to the nuclear power issue, [the Liberal Democratic Party] is not respecting the opinion of the majority of the Japanese people. If they continue to go ahead and promote nuclear power, I don’t believe that they will continue to be able to have the support of the people. The question is when will the LDP will realize this.”

While Koizumi is still a staunch supporter of the Liberal Democratic Party, the party’s leadership remains the most significant obstacle for Japan’s zero nuclear power future. Looking toward future political change, Koizumi says, “I think that Japan, at quite a fast speed, could achieve zero nuclear power and economic development based on renewable energy. However, under the current Abe administration, this is not possible. In the near future, even under the LDP, I believe that—through the support of the people of Japan—the LDP itself will also change and achieve zero nuclear power plants.”

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