Although he has no plans to return to national politics, former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi tells the electorate not to lose hope in the campaign against nuclear power.
In an exclusive interview with The Asahi Shimbun in Tokyo, Koizumi called for a national movement to steer Japan away from nuclear plants.
“We should patiently continue to make efforts toward such a movement,” he said on Sept. 9. “It is worth our efforts.”
In the first interview Koizumi, 73, has granted to a media outlet since he stopped down as prime minister in September 2006, the theme was nuclear power.
The former prime minister denounced the Abe administration for pushing to rely on nuclear energy despite the 2011 Fukushima disaster, calling the recent restart of a nuclear power station “wrong.”
“Japan will be all right even if all its nuclear power plants are abandoned right now,” he said.
“Nuclear power plants are not safe,” he said. “If additional precautions are taken (to help prepare nuclear facilities for a giant quake), it will cost a huge amount of money.”
The former prime minister also hit back at the government’s argument that continuing with nuclear power will be a step in the right direction in terms of addressing global warming, given it does not emit carbon dioxide while generating electricity.
“Nuclear power is not clean at all,” he said. “It is obvious that nuclear power also generates ‘nuclear waste’ (highly radioactive waste), which is more dangerous than carbon dioxide (that is spewed by thermal power plants).”
Koizumi criticized Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for “being influenced by promoters of nuclear power” and pressing ahead with the restart of a nuclear power plant.
Koizumi said he pressed Abe to move toward a nuclear-free Japan at a meeting between the current and former prime ministers in March.
“I said to him, ‘Japan can close down all of its nuclear power stations only if you decide to do so and that you have a great chance,’ ” he said.
Koizumi was confident that Japan could persuade the United States, with which Tokyo has worked together in promoting nuclear energy, about its possible change of course.
“Washington will definitely accept it if Tokyo decides to go without nuclear power plants,” he said, “because the United States is our ally and a democracy.”
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