Some political sources say Koizumi is simply expressing his true feelings about nuclear power. But others point to a political motive behind this anti-nuclear stance. They say Koizumi may be trying to protect, albeit indirectly, the Abe administration and even the party he once famously vowed to “destroy.”
Koizumi, who was prime minister from 2001 to 2006, stunned an audience on Sept. 24 during a forum in Tokyo’s Roppongi Hills commercial complex commemorating the 50th anniversary of the publication of the business magazine President.
“Since retiring (from politics), I have had more opportunities recently to speak with business leaders rather than Diet members. During such discussions, I often hear comments that Japan cannot grow without any nuclear power plants or that calling for zero nuclear power plants is irresponsible,” Koizumi, 71, said in a speech. “However, I studied what experts have said until now about nuclear energy being safe, clean and inexpensive, and I harbored doubts.
“I wonder if human beings can really control nuclear energy. I have now become an advocate calling for zero nuclear plants and urge politicians to make that decision as quickly as possible.”
hose in the Abe administration are trying to determine Koizumi’s motives.
“After the Mainichi Shimbun column appeared, we were paying attention to whether others would follow in his footsteps, including his son, Shinjiro, a Lower House member,” a source close to the Cabinet Intelligence and Research Office said. “He does, after all, have an outstanding sense for how the political world operates.”
There are signs that Abe was the one who responded most aggressively to the comments made by Koizumi.
Abe did refer to renewable energy and energy conservation as key issues in his policy address at the Diet in February. But his statements at the news conference about resuming operations at nuclear plants were substantially toned down from his earlier remarks.
An LDP source said: “Koizumi is making those comments while being very aware of their effects. However, rather than trip up Abe, I believe he is only trying to restrain the Abe administration that is moving in the direction (of resuming nuclear plant operations).
In any event, Koizumi is not backing away from his no-nukes stance.
“If the government and LDP now came out with a policy of zero nuclear plants, the nation could come together in the creation of a recyclable society unseen in the world,” he said in a speech in Nagoya on Oct. 1. “A large majority of the population now understands that nuclear energy is the most expensive form of power generation.”