NIIGATA–Nuclear-power proponents were already accelerating plans to restart two reactors in Niigata Prefecture following Governor Ryuichi Yoneyama’s resignation and admission April 18 that he paid women for sexual relations.
“I will ask the new prefectural governor to start discussions on the restart as early as possible,” Kashiwazaki Mayor Masahiro Sakurai, 55, said.
He admitted that he had met the women once or twice a month and handed them 30,000 yen (about $280) or more each time.
Even after he became Niigata governor in October 2016, he twice met one of the women at his condominium in Tokyo by December that year.
His arrangement with the women was reported in the weekly magazine Shukan Bunshun issue that went on sale on April 19.
The Anti-Prostitution Law prohibits the exchange of money for sexual intercourse.
For those opposed to the restarts, the governor’s resignation represented a setback.
“Yoneyama expanded the framework to probe the safety of nuclear power plants,” said Eiko Takeuchi, 48, a public health nurse and a member of an anti-nuclear group in Kashiwazaki. “He was also positive about holding discussions with citizens.
“Yoneyama created an environment for citizens to think seriously about the pros and cons of nuclear power plants. It is extremely regrettable that such a person was forced to resign due to a private issue,” she said.
Yumiko Sugi, a 49-year-old homemaker, evacuated from Minami-Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, and is now living with her second son, a third-year senior high school student, in Niigata.
“I wonder if there is a person who will take over the (prefectural government’s) investigation,” she said. “Do we have to experience the same anxieties again?”