More than 60% of voters support Hamaoka nuclear plant shutdown

May 16, 2011

Sixty-two percent of voters support Prime Minister Naoto Kan's decision to request the suspension of the Hamaoka nuclear power plant, according to an Asahi Shimbun survey.

Only 23 percent of people oppose his policy on the issue.

Forty-eight percent say they are willing to accept higher electricity charges to finance compensation for the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant accident. Forty-three percent of respondents reject the charge hikes.

The survey, conducted on May 14 and 15, found that 45 percent of respondents supported tax increases to fund reconstruction following the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake, while 40 percent opposed hikes.

The difference was narrower than in the previous poll, conducted on April 16 and 17, in which 59 percent of respondents supported tax increases and 31 percent were opposed.

The nationwide telephone survey contacted 3,118 voters and received valid responses from 64 percent of its sample.

Forty-three percent of respondents said they supported nuclear power generation. Of those, 59 percent said they "positively evaluated" Kan's request to shut down all reactors at the Hamaoka plant in Omaezaki, Shizuoka Prefecture, which lies in the projected focal region of the long-expected Tokai earthquake. Thirty percent said they did not "positively evaluate" it.

Chubu Electric Power Co. acceded to Kan's request and shut down all reactors at the Hamaoka plant by May 14.

Sixty-four percent of respondents living in the area served by the utility "positively evaluated" Kan's request, while 25 percent did not. That was roughly in line with the national trend.

Kan did not ask other nuclear power plants to shut down because they were not considered to pose the same risks as the Hamaoka plant. Forty-nine percent of respondents supported that policy, and 26 percent were opposed.

In the 13 prefectures where nuclear power plants are located, 47 percent supported Kan's stance and 26 percent were opposed.

Support for the Kan Cabinet rose to 26 percent from 21 percent in the April survey, while the non-supporters fell to 51 percent from 60 percent.

But many voters are still critical of Kan's leadership.

Forty-one percent of respondents said they wanted Kan to "resign at an early date," compared with 34 percent who wanted him to remain in office. In April, 43 percent wanted an early resignation, while 36 percent opposed it.

Only 20 percent of respondents said they "positively evaluated" the Cabinet's response to the accident at the Fukushima plant, while 63 percent said they did not.

Thirty-three percent said a Liberal Democratic Party-centered government should take over, while 22 percent favored a Democratic Party of Japan-led administration. Forty-five percent of those surveyed did not respond to the question or gave other answers.

An overwhelming 86 percent of respondents said the government's budget review to secure reconstruction funds is "insufficient."

Among respondents who supported tax increases to fund reconstruction, 42 percent favored relying on increases in the consumption tax, while 45 percent preferred using mainly income and corporate taxes.

On May 13, the government set the target of cutting peak electricity consumption by 15 percent this summer in the regions served by Chubu Electric and Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the Fukushima plant.

Respondents all over the country were asked whether their households would be able to hit the target this summer. Fifty-two percent said the target could be achieved, while 33 percent said the target was too demanding. In the regions served by the two utilities, 56 percent said they could meet the target, compared with 48 percent in other regions.

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(c) The Asahi Shimbun

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