Shinzo Abe has brushed aside the suggestion by Junichiro Koizumi, a former prime minister and his political mentor, that Japan move away from nuclear power generation.
“I think it is irresponsible to promise zero (nuclear power plants) at this stage,” the prime minister said on a television program broadcast Oct. 24. It was recorded the previous day.
Abe said Japan cannot keep relying on thermal power generation, with all of its nuclear plants shut down until their safety is confirmed after the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
“Koizumi is probably playing his hunch (in arguing for zero nuclear plants), but Japan is losing nearly 4 trillion yen ($41 billion) in national wealth a year,” Abe said, referring to increased fuel costs for thermal plants. “We will be in big trouble if this continues.”
In speeches, Koizumi, a popular prime minister for five years through 2006, has called for Japan to wean itself from atomic energy.
“Most business leaders say it is irresponsible to call for zero nuclear plants,” the retired politician said recently. “But it is even more irresponsible to promote nuclear power without any prospect of constructing disposal sites for nuclear waste.”
Abe was asked about Koizumi’s arguments during a Lower House Budget Committee meeting on Oct. 21.
“My teachers in politics are former prime ministers Koizumi and (Yoshiro) Mori,” Abe said. “(But) as a person responsible for government, I will pursue a responsible energy policy so that people’s lives and economic activities are not impacted under any circumstances."
During an Upper House Budget Committee meeting on Oct. 24, Tadatomo Yoshida, leader of the Social Democratic Party, pressed Abe to break away from atomic energy, showing photo panels of Koizumi and Akie Abe, the prime minister’s wife, who has expressed her opposition to nuclear power.
“Both individuals are extremely important to me," Abe said. "But from the government’s standpoint, (nuclear plants) are extremely important for a stable energy supply and economic activities.”
Yoshida is asking for a meeting with Koizumi to discuss how they can work together to end Japan's reliance on atomic energy.
“As Koizumi said, political parties other than the ruling Liberal Democratic Party have outlined, albeit in varying degrees, a direction toward moving away from nuclear power,” Yoshida said at an Oct. 23 news conference. “If Abe makes up his mind, Japan will make a significant step forward.”
Kazuo Shii, chairman of the Japanese Communist Party’s executive committee, has also hinted that his party may form an alliance with Koizumi on the single issue of no nuclear plants.
“(Koizumi says) Japan must do away with nuclear plants because it cannot dispose of nuclear waste. It makes perfect sense,” Shii said Oct. 17. “We will cooperate with people with any stance as long as we agree on zero nuclear plants.”
Your Party chief Yoshimi Watanabe, Ichiro Ozawa, leader of the People’s Life Party, and former Prime Minister Naoto Kan of the Democratic Party of Japan have also shown support for Koizumi’s call for no nuclear plants.
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