Former PM Koizumi calls on Abe to stop using nuclear power

In Other News - November 15th, 2013
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Former Japanese premier Junichiro Koizumi urged Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, his old deputy, to cease the country’s reliance on nuclear power.

Joining the anti-nuclear bandwagon, Koizumi called on Abe to abandon nuclear power, a contentious issue since the Fukushima nuclear crisis in 2011.

Koizumi, a political heavyweight who has supported atomic energy during his government, said Abe has abundant political capital to turn the nuclear-dependent nation around.

“Nobody has had more favorable conditions to achieve a nuclear-free option than Abe,” Koizumi said in a rare news conference at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo attended by over 350 reporters and club members.

“For the first time in a long time, the Japanese are ready to support a project and I want him to use his strong political clout.”

Koizumi, also an influential voice among the general public and within the ruling bloc, his old Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), said that Abe could determine Japan’s position on the issue.

“Now the opposition camp advocates a nuclear-free society, and only the LDP opposes it,” Koizumi said.

“Even within the LDP, there are quite a few lawmakers who at heart are leaning towards the zero-nuclear policy. A prime minister’s power is enormous. If he proposed the zero-nuclear policy, no objections would emerge.”

His remarks Tuesday echoes previous calls for a nuclear free policy and has added pressure on a government weighed down by struggles to mop up tons of radioactive waster from the stricken nuclear plant.

Abe aims to reduce nuclear power as much as possible but believes scrapping it right away would threaten a stable power supply.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the government intends to stick to its policy of gradually reducing nuclear power’s ratio in the country’s energy mix.

“The government believes it is extremely important to administer its energy policy in a responsible manner,” Suga said.

By Maesie Bertumen

Image: SandoCap/Flickr