Opposition parties are blaring anti-nuclear slogans and calling for phaseouts of atomic power generation. But their positions on Japan’s energy policy–or any other issue for that matter–have failed to dampen expectations of a landslide victory by the ruling coalition in the July 21 Upper House election.
However, one potential battle over nuclear energy could erupt after the votes are counted.
The ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its junior coalition partner, New Komeito, are trying not to raise the nuclear issue during the election campaign. But they do, in fact, differ greatly on the subject, including restarting idle reactors, exporting nuclear technology and continuing Japan’s troubled nuclear fuel-cycle program.
The LDP during the Lower House campaign vowed to “decide within three years” whether the offline reactors should be reactivated.
The party is now pushing for swift restarts.
New Komeito is also seeking swift action–but toward “a society that does not depend on nuclear power plants.”
The party, backed by the nation’s largest lay-Buddhist organization, is not ruling out all reactor restarts.
But New Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi said the party will not give its approval unless local governments and public opinion accept such restarts.
New Komeito is calling for a review of the nuclear fuel-cycle program. It is pushing a policy switch to bury the nuclear waste without reprocessing spent fuel and to mothball the Monju reactor.
New Komeito also has reservations about the Abe administration’s initiative to export nuclear power plants to other countries, such as Turkey, India and the United Arab Emirates.
Kazuo Shii, chairman of the Japanese Communist Party, said Japan should not become a “merchant of death” through sales of nuclear plants.
The JCP, which expanded its strength in the Tokyo metropolitan assembly election last month, is calling for the immediate abolition of nuclear power plants.
“Reactors should never ever be brought online before the Fukushima accident is put to a complete end,” Shii said.
Mizuho Fukushima, the Social Democratic Party leader, emphasized the need to export renewable energy-related technology instead, citing the nation’s advanced wind and biomass technology.
The SDP has left no doubt that it is opposed to restarting reactors and continuing the nuclear fuel-cycle program. It has called for legislation that commits Japan to move away from nuclear energy.