(Reuters) – Former Japanese premier Junichiro Koizumi on Tuesday urged his old deputy, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, to abandon nuclear power, adding to pressure on the government to re-consider its position on unpopular atomic energy.
Koizumi was one of Japan’s most popular prime ministers before he stepped down in 2006 and his comments carry influence among the general public and within the ruling bloc, led by his old Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).
Nuclear power has been contentious since a power plant in the Fukushima region north of Tokyo was hit by a big earthquake and tsunami in 2011, triggering explosions, meltdowns and the world’s worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl.
Koizumi supported nuclear power when he was prime minister and his calls in recent months for the country to give it up are a headache for the government.
Abe aims to reduce nuclear power as much as possible but believes it would be irresponsible to give it up straight away because that would threaten a stable power supply.
Koizumi said if money used to build nuclear plants was spent on renewable energy, it would spur a range of technological development.
More than two and a half years after the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, the operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co, is struggling to stop radiation leaks.
Koizumi said Abe could determine Japan’s position on the issue.
Atomic Age related article: 小泉氏、首相に脱原発へ決断迫る 「即ゼロがいい」via 47News
Related article: Japan ex-leaders join calls against nuclear power via Boston.com
Polls have shown the majority of the public, jittery over radiation risks, prefers to shift away from the nuclear plants that provided nearly a third of Japan’s power generation capacity before the accident at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant, the worst since the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.