The governor of Shizuoka Prefecture said he will support holding a local referendum on restarting the Hamaoka nuclear power plant, which is regarded as a ticking time bomb.
“I will respect the will of residents and (make efforts) to realize a referendum,” Heita Kawakatsu said Aug. 27 after a citizens group delivered a petition calling for a plebiscite.
The petition carries the signatures of 165,000 people. A minimum of 62,000 signatures is required for calling for an ordinance.
A draft ordinance for a referendum, to which Kawakatsu’s opinion will be attached, is expected to be submitted to the prefectural assembly session that opens in September.
“We expect the prefectural assembly to accept the governor’s decision, which is significant,” said Nozomu Suzuki, co-head of the citizens group. “We want to see Shizuoka (become the first local government to) hold a referendum (on this issue).”
Draft ordinances for local referendums on nuclear energy were voted down at the Tokyo metropolitan assembly and the Osaka municipal assembly after the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant last year.
Both Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara and Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto expressed opposition to the ordinances submitted to their assemblies.
Kawakatsu is the first governor to support a referendum on the reactivation of a nuclear power plant after the Fukushima crisis.
Kawakatsu, explaining the demand for a referendum, cited a loss in public trust toward Diet members and other politicians elected through indirect democracy.
“There is no reason to reject this opinion,” he said.
Kawakatsu had not made clear how he would respond to a petition calling for a referendum.
The Hamaoka plant in Omaezaki is considered particularly dangerous because it sits on the projected epicenter area of a long-predicted earthquake that could devastate the Tokai region.
The government has estimated there is an 88-percent chance of a magnitude-8.0 earthquake striking the region within the next 30 years.
Chubu Electric Power Co. shut down the plant two months after the magnitude-9.0 Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11, 2011, at the urging of Naoto Kan, prime minister at the time.
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