Survey: Scrap nuclear power soon, more than half of Japanese people say

August 25, 2012

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

Fifty-eight percent of people want Japan to abolish nuclear power within a decade, sooner than the earliest government proposal of 2030 and reflecting widespread fears for another nuclear disaster, an Asahi Shimbun survey has found.

The postal poll found 16 percent want nuclear power abandoned immediately; a further 21 percent want it phased out within five years; and an additional 21 percent within 10 years. Only 8 percent of respondents favored retaining nuclear power indefinitely.

A total 55 percent of respondents said they would accept higher electricity costs as the price for phasing out nuclear energy, including 7 percent who said they would accept "a big hike."

At the time of the Fukushima disaster, nuclear plants accounted for about 30 percent of Japan's electricity. Opponents say reactors carry too much risk, given Japan's seismic record and failure to prevent three meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

Japan's government is drafting a new energy policy for the years through 2030. It is soliciting public input on how nuclear power should contribute to Japan's total energy needs. Current proposals are to shrink it to zero, 15 percent or 20-25 percent, although there is no firm commitment to reduce it. The remainder would comprise energy from thermal plants and renewable sources.

The survey asked respondents what ratio they would support. In figures that might be seen as contradicting the earlier responses, only 49 percent said atomic energy should be zero; 29 percent said they would back the government if it decided to limit nuclear to 15 percent of total power generation.

Meanwhile, 65 percent of respondents said they expect renewable energy to play a large role by 2030.

The survey, conducted between July and August, involved sending questionnaires to 3,000 registered voters across Japan; 75 percent returned responses.

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