ASAHI SURVEY: 42% of Diet members want end to nuclear power

August 26, 2012

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

Forty-two percent of Diet members favor a government proposal for abandoning nuclear energy by 2030, showing growing support for a drastic policy shift following last year’s nuclear disaster, an Asahi Shimbun survey found.

Of Diet members in the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, 40 percent backed the abolition of the technology.

But only 4 percent of Diet members of the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party supported the zero reliance option.

With respect to licensing new nuclear plants and relicensing of the existing plants, 60 percent of the Diet members were opposed, while 5 percent were in favor.

Tetsuro Fukuyama, a DPJ member in the Upper House and deputy chief Cabinet secretary when the accident occurred last year at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, said Japan should expand renewable energy sources. He is one of 83 DPJ members in the Diet in favor of abandoning nuclear power.

“We can create a cycle of positive developments by pushing deregulation, research and development of technology, which will spur job creation and demands and lead to technological innovation,” Fukuyama said.

The Asahi Shimbun received responses from a total of 434 Diet members through questionnaires, interviews and comments in news conferences between late July and Aug. 25.

The number represents 60 percent of all the members in the Lower House and Upper House.

The government is working on a new energy policy for the years through 2030, discussing the role nuclear energy would provide in the nation's total output of electricity.

While nuclear power accounted for 26 percent in 2010, the government has proposed to shrink the ratio to zero, 15 percent or 20-25 percent in 2030. The new energy policy is expected to be compiled in September.

The survey found that 11 percent of respondents endorsed a 15 percent share and 3 percent favored the 20-25 percent option.

Limiting nuclear power to 15 percent of total energy generation is achievable under legislation concerning the establishment of a new nuclear regulator to replace the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, which was enacted in June. The legislation has a clause that limits reactors’ lifespans to 40 years.

Thirty-three DPJ lawmakers endorsed the 15-percent proposal, while only eight LDP members backed it.

A 20-25 percent share received support from only 13 members in the Diet.

Responses from members of the LDP and New Komeito marked a sharp contrast with their DPJ counterparts, with more than 60 percent citing an answer other than the three government proposals.

The two parties are apparently opposed to the vision offered by the DPJ administration.

Meanwhile, an overwhelming majority of Diet members from other opposition parties such as People’s Life First, a new party founded by former DPJ President Ichiro Ozawa, the Japanese Communist Party, Your Party and the Social Democratic Party were supporting a nuclear-free Japan.

The survey also found that 41 percent were in favor of burying spent nuclear fuel from reactors deep underground under “direct disposal,” abandoning a longtime goal of creating a full nuclear fuel cycle through recycling of all such fuel.

As for the reason, they said no need will arise for reprocessing after a shift from nuclear power and that little progress has been made over the years toward actual utilization of the envisioned nuclear fuel cycle.

Those calling for the continuation of the reprocessing effort stood at 4 percent.

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
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  • All but two reactors at the Oi nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture, shown here, of the nation's 50 nuclear reactors are currently offline. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

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