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Former Japanese leader firm on nuclear energy via DW

Naoto Kan, who was Japanese PM when the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake hit and crippled the Fukushima nuclear plant, remains in politics but has only one aim now: to see every last atomic energy plant shut down.

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Resisting the return of nuclear power has become his sole aim in politics now, he said suring an interview in Tokyo on Thursday, December 12.

“I was recently in Hakodate, in Hokkaido, to take part in a meeting of people opposed to the restart of the Oma nuclear plant and after that I went to Ikata to speak to people in Ehime Prefecture about the reactors there,” Kan said.

Network of citizens

“I am trying to increase the network of citizens who are speaking out against nuclear power.

“And when I meet the people in the towns where these reactors are based, I see just how many voices are against the plants,” he said. “That makes me think it will not be possible for the government and the power companies to go over the heads of the people and forcibly restart the plants.”

All 50 of Japan’s commercial reactors are currently off-line, a measure that Kan ordered in the immediate aftermath of the Fukushima disaster and until thorough safety checks could be carried out. Under law, they can only be restarted with the approval of local authorities and while two reactors were briefly operated earlier this year, no community has so far granted a power company to put their facilities back into full operation.

And Kan wants to keep it that way.

Cannot be controlled

“The reason that I am against nuclear energy is because it is a technology that human beings cannot control 100 percent,” he said. And while he agrees that there are similar risks associated with travelling by airplane, for example, the impact of a severe accident at a nuclear plane – as Japan has already seen – is “potentially enormous.”

At one point shortly after the Fukushima disaster, Kan and his government was giving serious consideration to issuing an order to evacuate 50 million people living within a 250-km radius of the plant, which would have included Tokyo.

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‘Intervention from God’

“I still consider this to have been divine intervention from God,” he said.

Kan stepped down as prime minister in August 2011 and his Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) lost the December 2012 general election to the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) – a strongly pro-business and pro-nuclear energy party.

Even though he is no longer in government – and has been suspended by the DPJ for supporting a rival to the party’s candidate in a recent by-election – Kan continues to push his belief that humankind cannot completely control nuclear energy and that we therefore need to harness power from renewable sources to ensure our future.

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