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Friday, Oct. 26, 2012

Ishin no Kai dittos Noda no-nuke aim


Staff writer

OSAKA — In a controversial move, Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto's new national party will publicly pledge to eliminate atomic power by the 2030s even as it supports the export of nuclear technology and expertise overseas.

The 2030s goal mirrors the one initially pushed by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan. His Cabinet failed to endorse it.

Hashimoto's new pledges reflect his long-stated desire to eventually end Japan's addiction to atomic power and to switch to renewable forms of energy instead. The campaign platform of Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) mentions this goal, but does not set a specific target date for achieving it.

The inclusion of the new target represents something of a compromise with those in Hashimoto's fledgling party and corporate backers.

Many Nippon Ishin no Kai members and business leaders who support it are pronuclear and did not want any mention of nuclear power in its platform.

Some senior party members were also concerned about how an overtly antinuclear stance would go down with potential allies who favor retaining atomic energy, including Liberal Democratic Party chief Shinzo Abe, with whom the party still hopes to form some sort of alliance after the next general election.

But even as Nippon Ishin no Kai will seek to scrap atomic energy at home, it will continue to push Japanese nuclear technology on other nations planning to build their own atomic plants.

The export of nuclear technology and expertise has long been a goal of Japan Inc., the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and conservative politicians, but Hashimoto and Osaka Gov. Ichiro Matsui were forced to defend their decision Wednesday after the party's new pledges were announced.

"If we just throw away the technology we have, there will be no advances. Japanese technology for reactors and spent-fuel reprocessing is needed overseas," Hashimoto said.

Matsui, who is also secretary general of Nippon Ishin no Kai, echoed Hashimoto's views.

"Although it's possible to guarantee a high level of safety at nuclear power plants, if you look at the situation on the ground in Japan, it's impossible to operate them in complete safety with today's nuclear technology," Matsui said.

"But even if you don't have nuclear plants, supporting the industrial and economic structure is the role of politics."

Governors visit No. 1

Kyodo

The governors of Tokyo, Ibaraki and Gunma visited the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant Wednesday, the first prefectural heads to do so since the March 2011 meltdowns, apart from Fukushima's governor, according to Tokyo Electric Power Co.

Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara, Ibaraki Gov. Masaru Hashimoto and Gunma Gov. Masaaki Osawa, who were in Fukushima Prefecture to attend a meeting of governors from the Kanto region from Tuesday, suddenly amended their schedules to visit the crippled power plant.

During their two-hour tour, they observed the six-reactor complex from a bus and met with workers in an earthquake-proof building at the facility.

After their visit, Ishihara reiterated his opposition to the elimination of nuclear power, saying, "I really think it is foolish to abandon a modern and new technological system because of the (March 2011) accident."

But Hashimoto, whose prefecture neighbors Fukushima, stated, "I would say we should not allow nuclear power plants to operate unless it is assured that they will never cause another accident" of this magnitude.



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The Japan Times

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