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Stiff opposition to Japan PM’snuclear push as election approaches

Japan PM’s nuclear push faces resistance ahead of election, By Sakura Murakami,   KASHIWAZAKI, Japan, Oct 27 (Reuters) – Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s push to restart Japanese nuclear power plants idled after the Fukushima disaster faces stiff opposition ahead of a general election on Sunday, where his future as leader hangs in the balance if the vote is tight.

A decade after triple meltdowns at Fukushima forced mass evacuations and a shut-down of the nuclear industry, Japan has restarted only a third of its 33 operable reactors.

Debate over whether to fire more of them back up is highly charged, with 40% of the population opposing the move.

It matters most in rural cities hosting the idled plants which had once relied on them for economic activity, such as Kashiwazaki, 265 km (165 miles) northwest of Tokyo – home to the world’s largest atomic power complex.

“The reason why we feel so strongly about this is because we feel the danger of the nuclear power plant – it hangs over our heads every day,” said Mie Kuwabara, a resident of a town close to Kashiwazaki and anti-nuclear activist.

Voters mostly care about economic recovery from the pandemic. But energy policy came into sharp focus last month, when Kishida beat a popular anti-nuclear candidate in the race for the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) chief.

The architect of Kishida’s victory, party veteran Akira Amari, assumed a key party post and immediately pushed for restarts of 30 reactors while also promoting new, smaller reactors to replace ageing ones…….

Amari faces a tight race in his home district, where he is struggling to attract support from anti-nuclear junior coalition partner, Komeito.

Opposition to his plan is strong in Kashiwazaki too.

“This prefecture as a whole, even within the LDP, is united behind the idea that the nuclear power plant can’t be restarted,” said Mineo Ono, who runs the LDP’s local chapter where anti-nuclear proponent Taro Kono polled higher than Kishida in the leadership race vote.

Ono cited local distrust caused by what he called multiple mishaps by the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Holdings (Tepco) (9501.T).

………… even the local chamber of commerce, instrumental in wooing the plant which started operations in 1985, says it is tired of what it sees as Tepco’s repeated failures.

“It’s almost unbearable, seeing how shoddy they are,” said chamber of commerce chief Masao Saikawa………..  

Reporting by Sakura Murakami; Additional reporting by Aaron Sheldrick; Editing by Antoni Slodkowski and Lincoln Feast  https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/japan-pms-nuclear-push-faces-resistance-ahead-election-2021-10-27/ 

October 29, 2021 - Posted by | Japan, politics

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