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2011 March 30 - April 5 [NUCLEAR CRISIS]

Major parties all promoted nuclear power

April 3, 2011
As how to change the administration of nuclear power generation becomes a major issue for discussion in the simultaneous local elections, political parties’ nuclear energy policies now come to light.

Democratic Party of Japan

Promising “steady development of the use of nuclear power” in its manifesto for the 2009 House of Representatives general election, the Democratic Party of Japan, after taking power, revised its basic energy policy in June 2010. It declared an intention to build at least 14 new nuclear reactors by 2030, even more aggressive than the target set by the former LDP-Komei government.

At a Lower House Economy and Industry Committee meeting on April 9 last year, Japanese Communist Party representative Yoshii Hidekatsu warned that a massive earthquake could knock out nuclear reactor backup systems and lead to core meldowns. Then Industry Minister Naoshima Masayuki stated in response that various systems are already in place to prevent meltdown, indicating that the government has no need to take further safety measures.

Amid the ongoing nuclear crisis, Chief Cabinet Secretary Edano Yukio stated on March 18, “We do not consider now to be an appropriate time to discuss the future direction” regarding nuclear power generation.

Liberal Democratic Party

Together with the United States and Japanese business circles, the former ruling Liberal Democratic Party pushed forward with the construction of nuclear power reactors throughout the country during its decades of rule. It also promoted the nuclear fuel cycle program that extracts plutonium during the reprocessing of used fuel without sufficient technical backups.

In the 1998 House of Councilors election, the LDP backed Kano Tokio, former vice chair of Tokyo Electric Power Co. As the party’s Upper House representative until 2010, Kano repeatedly called for the promotion of nuclear power generation in the Diet.

In response to the accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, LDP President Tanigaki Sadakazu said on March 17, “The current situation makes it difficult to promote nuclear power generation.”

On March 31, however, Tanigaki indicated a reluctant stance toward making a change in nuclear energy policy, stating, “If other countries reconsider their nuclear policies, it will raise a major international problem leading to a significant change in demand for energy.”

Komei Party

The Komei Party has been an advocate of nuclear power generation since its founding in 1964 and often pressed the then Socialist Party (dissolved in 1994) to take sides with it as a nuclear energy promoter. In 1988, the Komei Party turned into somewhat of opponent of nuclear energy. However, with its participation in the 1998 coalition government, the party returned to being pro-nuclear energy. In 2003, together with its ruling partner, the Liberal Democratic Party, the Komei Party formulated the Basic Energy Plan promoting nuclear energy as the main source of electricity.

Even after falling from power, the party maintains the position of promoting nuclear energy by raising the operating ratio of nuclear power plants while supposedly ensuring their safety (Manifesto 2010).

Facing the latest nuclear power plant crisis, the party urgently requested the government to contain the incident as soon as possible and to address concerns about large-scale radioactive contamination. The party, however, has not said anything about whether it is reconsidering its nuclear promotion policy or not.


The Social Democratic Party is describing itself as the only party in the Diet that opposes nuclear power (SDP Chair Fukushima Mizuho on April 1), but it always hides its anti-nuclear position each time it joins a government.

When taking part in the non-LDP coalition government in 1993, the then Socialist Party declared that it would maintain the conventional policy on diplomacy and national defense. It changed its stance to be nuclear supportive by saying that it would work to ensure the safety of nuclear power generation. After that, it chose to remain in power with the pro-nuclear LDP, and then Prime Minister Murayama Tomiichi (Socialist Party) stated that the coalition government would make efforts to complete the existing energy plan on the grounds that the total volume of electricity supply and demand in Japan is already fixed up until 2010 (Upper House Budget Committee on October 18, 1994).

Both in the common policy with the Democratic Party of Japan and the People’s New Party announced during the 2009 general election and in the agreement of the three-party DPJ-led coalition government, the SDP again put aside the issue of nuclear power generation.

Your Party, local parties

The Your Party and the newly-founded local parties have no concrete policy on energy issues. The Your Party is proposing countermeasures to contain the ongoing nuclear crisis but remains silent about the country’s energy policy. On April 1, party leader Watanabe Yoshimi only said that the government should have an end strategy of how it will bury the reactors in a giant coffin. Osaka Governor Hashimoto Toru, who also heads the Osaka Ishin-no Kai (Osaka Restration Group), has not said a single word in regard to the March 11 disaster and the issues surrounding nuclear energy.
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