Nuclear debate grapples Japan's electoral battle

Featured - December 4th, 2012
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Japanese voters are closely watching the nuclear debate at the center of the electoral battle, an issue that will likely influence the ballot.

The nuclear debate has grappled Japan since the Fukushima disaster, with politicans seeking to resolve safety concerns amid concerns from businesses on the high cost of abandoning atomic energy.

The ruling Democratic Party of Japan unveiled a plan in September to abandon nuclear power by 2040 but made a turnabout shortly, saying the policy would be implemented “flexibly”.

Toru Hashimoto, founder of the Restoration Party, pledged to uphold the nuclear-free goal. Mr. Hashimoto accused power companies of “lying” about the necessity of keeping atomic plants to avoid electricity shortages. Restoration party’s co-leader Shintaro Ishihara said Japan should possess nuclear power plants and nuclear weapons, causing confusion in the party.

The center-right Liberal Democratic Party, which is leading the polls, remains the party most sympathetic to the nuclear industry but has moderated its support since the Fukushima meltdown. The LDP has called the DPJ’s decision to phase out nuclear power “rushed”.

Only the Communists and Social Democrats have called for a decisive end to nuclear power.

But the emerging consensus is that Japan should eliminate or significantly reduce its reliance on nuclear power. It could also utilize its remaining atomic reactors while it builds up capacity in solar, wind and other renewable energy sources, Financial Times reports.