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Nuclear power issue unlikely to be decisive factor in election via Japan Today

The future of nuclear power has become a key issue in campaigning for the Oct 22 general election, but Miyuki Ashiga, who was forced to evacuate her home in the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, feels that ensuring citizens’ safety has been put on the back-burner.

“Reconstruction efforts, including building new houses, are still slow” over six and a half years since the crisis, the 59-year-old said standing before arrays of makeshift housing for evacuees of Futaba, a town hosting the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex with neighboring Okuma.

Recalling the confusion and fear she felt fleeing her home in Futaba with her mother, she said, “In such a disaster, you tend to underestimate the outcome, thinking it can’t be that bad.”

“I want the government, whoever takes power, to tackle nuclear safety seriously” such as by making evacuation plans for residents living near nuclear plants, Ashiga said.

“I just hope such an accident will never, never happen again.”

[…]

All residents of Futaba are under an evacuation order, with 96 percent of the town designated as “difficult-to-return zones.”

While reconstruction efforts are still ongoing, and a decades-long plan to scrap the Fukushima Daiichi complex has exposed many challenges, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party is pledging to keep nuclear power as an “important base-load power source.”

[…]

But the LDP’s campaign has not focused on nuclear safety as opinion polls show around half of all voters are opposed to restarting nuclear power plants. Abe did not touch on the nuclear issue at all when he delivered his first stump speech in Fukushima.

Other parties, meanwhile, have stressed their plans to withdraw from nuclear power in their campaign pledges.

Tokyo Gov Yuriko Koike’s Party of Hope, for example, says it will compile a roadmap to eliminate nuclear power plants by 2030.

The Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, led by former chief Cabinet secretary Yukio Edano, calls for a speedy end to nuclear power generation, promising to create a law aimed at paving the way for eliminating all nuclear plants. In contrast to the Party of Hope, Edano’s party says any resumption of currently idle plants cannot be accepted in the process of realizing a complete exit.

The Social Democratic Party and the Japanese Communist Party are also against nuclear power and restarting nuclear reactors.

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