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Japan’s ruling party ‘fracturing’ over nuclear power

Newspapers reported on Friday that the government had picked Shunichi Tanaka, 67, an expert in radiation physics and a former deputy head of the Cabinet Office’s Atomic Energy Commission, to head the new safety regulator.

 some saying he represented Japan’s “nuclear village” — a nexus of politicians, utilities and regulators that experts say was a major factor in the failure to avert the Fukushima disaster.  …..

Ex-Japan PM joins anti-nuclear demo outside PM’s office  
* Ex-PM Hatoyama at anti-nuclear rally bad news for PM Noda

* Efforts to pick new atomic safety commission members snags after media leak

* Nuclear energy becoming bigger part of political debate (Recasts with ex-PM Hatoyama joining anti-nuclear demo near)

By Mari Saito and Tetsushi Kajimoto TOKYO, July 20 (Reuters) - In a rare move by a former Japanese prime minister, Yukio Hatoyama joined a boisterous anti-nuclear demonstration outside his old office on Friday, a fresh sign that the ruling party he once led is fracturing over energy and other policies.

Japan’s debate over nuclear power has become increasingly heated after
incumbent Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s decision to restart idled
reactors despite persistent public safety concerns following last
year’s Fukushima nuclear crisis.

The question of nuclear power’s role in a new energy portfolio the
government is set to decide next month is adding to divisions in
Noda’s Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), already rent by feuds over his
plan to double the sales tax to curb debt and the possibility Tokyo
might join a U.S.-led trade deal…… ever-bigger crowds have been
gathering every Friday outside Noda’s office.

“It is truly regrettable that the voices of all of you gathered here
today are so far removed from politics and the prime minister’s
office,” said Hatoyama, wearing a clear raincoat under a steady
drizzle and surrounded by reporters.

“As a former prime minister … I want to take your message inside the
prime minister’s office,” he said after shaking hands with a few of
the thousands of demonstrators.

He then entered Japan’s equivalent of the White House, where Kyodo
news agency said he met Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura…..

FURTHER FRACTURES

Hatoyama’s gesture however was another sign that Noda’s Democratic
Party is in danger of unravelling further.

Earlier this week, three members of parliament’s upper house left the
DPJ, citing opposition to the reactor restarts, the sales tax and the
possibility that Japan might join a U.S.-led free trade pact.

They were the latest to bolt after former DPJ leader Ichiro Ozawa, an
unpopular political veteran, led dozens out of the DPJ to set up a new
party, also protesting against the sales tax and promising to wean
Japan from its reliance on nuclear power.

Hatoyama, who also opposes the tax hike, has already hinted that he
and his DPJ backers might follow suit.

The government is set to decide on a new energy mix next month to
replace a scrapped 2010 programme that had sought to raise nuclear
power’s share to more than half of electricity needs by 2030 from
about 30 percent before the Fukushima crisis triggered by the huge
earthquake and tsunami in March 2011….
on Friday, media leaks forced the government to delay nominating
candidates for a new atomic safety watchdog that it hopes will instil
more confidence than current regulators, criticised for their cosy
ties with the power industry.

Newspapers reported on Friday that the government had picked Shunichi Tanaka, 67, an expert in radiation physics and a former deputy head of the Cabinet Office’s Atomic Energy Commission, to head the new safety regulator.

Tanaka drew mixed reviews from anti-nuclear groups, with some saying
he represented Japan’s “nuclear village” — a nexus of politicians,
utilities and regulators that experts say was a major factor in the
failure to avert the Fukushima disaster.  …..
http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/07/20/japan-nuclear-idUSL4E8IK2RD20120720

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July 21, 2012 - Posted by | Japan, politics

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