November 21 and 22, 2011
In the Fukushima Prefectural Assembly election held on November 20, the Japanese Communist Party increased its seats from 3 to 5 and became the third largest party in the assembly after the Liberal Democratic and Democratic parties.
The election had been postponed since April due to the 3.11 earthquake and subsequent nuclear accident. All 6 JCP candidates were elected in assembly elections hled on the same day in Fukushima’s Soma City, Okuma Town, Hirono Town, Kawamata Town, and Shinchi Town.
During their campaign for the prefectural assembly race, 7 candidates of the JCP, including one independent supported by the party, proposed that radiation decontamination and compensation for nuclear damages be funded by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the operator of the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant, and other utility companies as well as major corporations reaping huge profits from the nuclear power industry.
They also expressed firm opposition to Japan’s entry into the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) multinational trade pact for the great potential of bringing negative effects to post-disaster reconstruction efforts. The JCP platform attracted a wide-range of people, including conservatives and politically non-affiliated voters, many of whom actually took part in the party’s election campaign.
Since the 3.11 disaster, the JCP has measured radiation levels at numerous spots throughout Fukushima, created maps based on the results, and distributed them to local residents. It has also made representations to city, prefectural, and national governments, calling on them to hold the responsibility for measuring radiation doses and cleaning up radiation contamination.
Out of 2 million Fukushima residents, some 150,000 are still living as evacuees in temporary housing.
The election results for other parties were: the LDP from 26 to 27; the DPJ from 16 to 15; the Komei Party from 3 to 3; Social Democratic Party from 2 to 1; and the Your Party from 0 to1.
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At a press conference on November 21, JCP Secretariat Head Ichida Tadayoshi stated that many Fukushima residents appreciated the JCP’s efforts in criticizing the “safety myth” of nuclear power generation and calling for preventive measures to be taken against a severe accident at nuclear facilities since well before the inevitable accident occurred.
Referring to the advance the party made in assembly elections in the three disaster-hit prefectures (Iwate from 1 to 2, Miyagi from 2 to 4, and Fukushima from 3 to 5), Ichida said that the 3 major roles the JCP is playing in tackling post-disaster issues were widely recognized by voters.
The first is that JCP members throughout the nation have devoted themselves to send relief to and work for reconstruction of the devastated region.
The second role is in putting pressure on both national and local governments to strive to restore disaster victims’ lives, such as to solve the so-called “double loan” problems, and improve financial assistance to restore their livelihoods. The JCP opposed the establishment of a “special fishery zone” and other corporate oriented schemes for post-disaster reconstruction.
Thirdly, the JCP urged the state government and TEPCO to be financially responsible for initiating large-scale radiation decontamination processes and providing full compensation for nuclear damages. The party also proposed that Japan create a society without nuclear power plants and rapidly develop alternative energy sources.
In local elections in Miyagi Prefecture on November 13, two JCP candidates won seats in the assembly election in Onagawa Town which hosts a nuclear power plant. The party also obtained a prefectural assembly seat in an electoral district covering Onagawa Town for the first time. Referring to the results, Ichida said, “The JCP’s actions and policies in regard to nuclear energy issues have struck a chord with many voters.”