TOKYO — Japan’s flagging anti-nuclear movement received an unexpected new recruit when one of the nation’s most popular figures, former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, made a very public about-face from his previous embrace of atomic power.
In a speech to business executives in Nagoya, the former populist maverick surprised many in the solidly pronuclear crowd by proclaiming that Japan should rid itself of atomic plants and switch to renewable energy sources like solar power, the daily Tokyo Shimbun reported on Wednesday.
Mr. Koizumi, who as a pro-growth prime minister from 2001 to 2006 had backed the business lobby by calling for Japan to become “a nation built on nuclear power,” said in Tuesday’s speech that he had reversed his stance after the Fukushima nuclear accident two years ago, which left at least 83,000 people homeless and forced a multibillion-dollar cleanup.
“There is nothing more costly than nuclear power,” Mr. Koizumi, 71, was quoted as saying, in a refutation of his earlier embrace of nuclear power as cheap and clean. As prime minister in 2005, Mr. Koizumi had also sided with utility companies like Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the stricken Fukushima Daiichi plant, in deciding to end tax-funded subsidies for solar panels.
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