TOPTaxi company denies service for anti-nuclear politician

Taxi company denies service for anti-nuclear politician

By Alec Jordan

A taxi company came under fire for refusing to give a Japanese lawmaker a ride because of his stance on nuclear power, a sensitive issue in energy-starved Japan.

An aide to Masatoshi Akimoto, a newly-elected Lower House lawmaker and anti-nuclear advocate, called the taxi company in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture to request a car to take his boss to the Monju prototype fast-breeder reactor for an inspection.

After reportedly looking up Akimoto on the Internet, the employee in charge of dispatching taxis said they do not cater to people who are against nuclear power.

“We are rejecting people who take an anti-nuclear stance and are seeking to abolish nuclear power,” the employee said, adding that the company’s main customers are associated with the nuclear power industry.

The transport ministry flagged down the company and called the denial of service unlawful. Ministry officials said their refusal was in violation of the Road Transportation Law, which stipulates that taxi companies are required to accept all customers.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga also criticized the taxi company. “There is no justification whatsoever for what happened,” Suga told a news conference.

The taxi company later talked to The Asahi Shimbun, saying the employee thought “that by accepting customers who take an anti-nuclear stance, our company will lose jobs.”

The nuclear issue has become a flashpoint in Japan’s politics since the meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear plant, which forced thousands of families to flee their homes over radiation fears and left Japan walking the thin line between abandoning nuclear power amid an energy crisis and choosing to live with the risk of radioactive fallout.

By Maesie Bertumen

Image: SandoCap/Flickr