Issue of nuclear reliance overshadowed by radiation cleanup pledges in Fukushima election via The Mainichi Daily News

As the Nov. 10 launch of campaigning for the Fukushima Prefectural Assembly election approaches, many candidates are focusing on the issue of decontamination rather than questions over whether or not to keep nuclear power.

Backed by the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) in the Koriyama electoral district is 56-year-old Toshio Sakuma. Wearing a dosimeter around his neck, Sakuma has been visiting residents’ homes and checking for radiation spread by the ongoing crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant.While

Sakuma is a newcomer in the prefectural assembly race, he has served four terms as a Koriyama Municipal Assembly member. He previously worked for Tohoku Electric Power Co. and in previous elections he received support from Federation of Electric Power Related Industry Worker’s Unions of Japan.

In the two-seat Futaba district, home to the Fukushima No. 1 and No. 2 nuclear plants, many residents were forced to evacuate their homes as a result of radiation contamination, and many still remain scattered around Japan. A total of five candidates have stepped forward to represent the district. Among them is incumbent DPJ member Eiji Sakamoto, 56. He says voters have not been so interested in whether candidates are for or against nuclear power.

The Social Democratic Party is backing 61-year-old newcomer Yoko Endo, who has campaigned for the abolishment of nuclear power plants. The reason the party is officially backing a candidate for the first time in five years after a local by-election is to push through its claims in “a constituency representative of the tragedy of the nuclear power crisis.”

Endo has visited residents who have evacuated to temporary housing units to listen to what they have to say. She says she has received a certain level of feedback with people saying, “We don’t need nuclear power plants any more.” However she adds: “I’ve also heard some harsh opinions, with people saying that they’ve survived on nuclear power for a long time, so how can they now say they will get rid of nuclear power plants.”

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