Undeterred by a crushing election defeat, former Prime Ministers Junichiro Koizumi and Morihiro Hosokawa plan to set up an organization to abolish nuclear power and oppose Japan’s exports of nuclear technology.
Koizumi, 72, and Hosokawa, 76, are expected to hold a convention in Tokyo on May 7 to inaugurate their anti-nuclear general incorporated association, a nonprofit entity.
The group will promote renewable energy technologies, oppose the restarts of idled nuclear reactors and field candidates against pro-nuclear politicians in local elections.
The two former prime ministers plan to hold town meetings in prefectures that host nuclear complexes, such as Niigata, Aomori and Kagoshima, to bolster anti-nuclear momentum in those areas.
“I want to support efforts to build the local economy without reliance on nuclear power,” Hosokawa said in an interview with The Asahi Shimbun on April 14.
Just two months ago, on Feb. 9, Hosokawa could only place third in the Tokyo governor’s election, even with the full support of the still-popular Koizumi. Under a campaign based largely on anti-nuclear policies, Hosokawa garnered less than half of the votes of the winner, Yoichi Masuzoe, who was supported by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his LDP seek a return to Japan’s energy policy before the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant by defining nuclear power as an important energy source in the basic energy plan approved by the Cabinet on April 11.
The LDP is not particularly worried about the latest move of Koizumi and Hosokawa to take the anti-nuclear cause beyond Tokyo.
“They no longer have any clout to significantly sway public opinion,” said a senior LDP official, citing the long period from when the two led the country.
Hosokawa served as prime minister from 1993 to 1994 and Koizumi from 2001 and 2006.
After the loss in the Tokyo election, Hosokawa and Koizumi met several times and agreed on the need to start a movement to give a voice to the public’s anti-nuclear sentiment, which they believe remains strong.
Eleven others at this stage plan to promote the new group, including philosopher Takeshi Umehara and Kabuki actor Ichikawa Ennosuke, according to Hosokawa. Veteran actress Sayuri Yoshinaga will be among dozens of the body’s supporters.
Hosokawa will be the representative director of the group, whose name is translated as “the conference for promoting renewables.”
The group’s initial challenges will be to block the restart of the Sendai nuclear power plant in Sendai, Kagoshima Prefecture, and to prevent pro-nuclear candidates from winning the Fukushima governor race late this year and the nationwide local elections in spring 2015.
Of Japan’s 48 idled reactors, two at Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Sendai plant are expected to be the first to go back online, possibly in the summer. The Nuclear Regulation Authority’s safety screenings have progressed furthest at the plant.
But local governments around the nuclear plant must also clear many hurdles to secure the safety of their residents. For example, they need to draw up realistic evacuation plans for a possible emergency as well as measures to deal with ash from Mount Sakurajima and other volcanoes.
Hosokawa and Koizumi are expected to hold a town meeting in the region to stimulate debate over the matter.
In the Fukushima gubernatorial election, the LDP’s prefectural chapter is expected to field a candidate.
To counter, Hosokawa and Koizumi plan to back a contender of their choice or endorse a candidate running on promises to phase out nuclear power, according to people close to Hosokawa.
They also plan to raise the issue of whether the Fukushima No. 2 nuclear power plant, located near the stricken No. 1 plant and also operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co., should be decommissioned, as was requested by local governments in the prefecture.
Koizumi handpicked Abe for his first stint as prime minister in 2006. Now in his second run as the nation’s leader, Abe has not taken a clear stance on the future of the No. 2 nuclear plant.
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