Veteran powerbroker Ichiro Ozawa said Aug. 1 his new party would campaign for all nuclear power plants to be abolished within 10 years.
The pledge is one of three key policy platforms for Ozawa’s People’s Life First party, along with opposition to Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s consumption tax increases and giving local governments greater policy making power and financial resources.
The new party, which was set up last month after Ozawa and dozens of other lawmakers resigned en masse from the Democratic Party of Japan, plans to cobble its policies together by Sept. 8, when the current extended Diet session ends.
He told journalists at a news conference in Tokyo that cutting Japan’s reliance on nuclear power was feasible.
“At present, the nuclear power plants of Tokyo Electric Power Co. are not working, but there has not been an electricity shortage even though it’s hot every day.”
He said: “We will aim to improve technologies for thermal power generation and develop and promote alternative energies.”
Ozawa also said increasing local autonomy would be a major priority. “(From the central government’s subsidies and policy-oriented expenditures,) we will aim to transfer a total of 40 trillion yen (about $510 billion), except for financial resources for pensions and expenditures for national universities, to local governments.”
Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto has also advocated greater local autonomy and its inclusion in Ozawa’s party’s key priorities may help Ozawa court Hashimoto.
Ozawa’s new party also avoided taking a stance on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement in its basic policy platform. Hashimoto appears to be positive about the free trade agreement, while Ozawa’s new party has many members who are opposed to it.
Ozawa hedged on the issue: “I am not opposed to the principle of promoting free trade by eliminating tariffs. With the current stance of Prime Minister Noda’s government, however, Japan will face difficulties if it takes part (in the TPP).”
Ozawa’s news conference was his first since the party was formed on July 11.
At the opening ceremony of the party’s head office in Tokyo, which immediately preceded the news conference, Muneo Suzuki, head of New Party Daichi—True Democrats, which has cooperative relations with Ozawa’s new party, said: “The flow (of Japanese politics) will change if Mr. Ozawa talks to the people regularly.”
Ozawa later said: “There is an opinion that I should sometimes talk to media reporters even if I hate those opportunities. I am going to talk (with reporters) once every two weeks.”
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