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Kishida’s nuclear policy rekindles battle in small Japanese town

Opponents of planned power plant field mayoral candidate for first time in 11 years

Nikkei Asia, SAYUMI TAKE, Nikkei staff writer, October 22, 2022

TOKYO — The Japanese government’s nuclear policy reversal has stirred up an otherwise tranquil fishing town, home to 2,400 people and a long-frozen plan to build a nuclear power plant on its coastline.

Come Sunday, citizens of Kaminoseki in western Japan’s Yamaguchi prefecture will elect a new mayor. By extension, they will express their attitude toward the envisioned plant. For the first time in 11 years, an anti-nuclear local organization has fielded a candidate, making the election a faceoff with a pro-nuclear candidate.

As the global energy crisis forces a number of countries to take a fresh look at nuclear power, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced in August that Japan would develop and build next-generation plants, after it largely shunned the atomic energy industry in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster in 2011. This has rekindled the debate in the town, with supporters saying a nuclear plant would save the rapidly graying community but opponents arguing it would put human and marine life at risk.

“I became alarmed that Prime Minister Kishida mentioned nuclear power plants and new construction,” said 75-year-old candidate Tsutomu Kimura, a former schoolteacher who filed to run for office after 35 years of opposing the plant. “If I didn’t run, the government would think there is no one in town who is against the plans, and might make a move.”…………………………………………………………………….

 nuclear opponent Kimura and his supporters argue that more could be done to make alternatives work, such as getting creative to attract newcomers to settle down or encourage tourists to explore the town’s rich natural environment.

“Nuclear power plants have the potential to cause a disaster that would affect thousands, and no one can take responsibility for that,” Kimura argued. “I wonder whether our children, our future generations, would want to return to a town with such a facility.”…………………..

Nationwide, opinion appears to be divided over Kishida’s new nuclear policy. In a poll conducted by public broadcaster NHK in September, 48% were in favor and 32% opposed. Another poll by the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper showed that 36% were in favor, while 44% were against. https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/Kishida-s-nuclear-policy-rekindles-battle-in-small-Japanese-town

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October 21, 2022 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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