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Saturday, Dec. 1, 2012
Voters get little to go on when it comes to nuclear issue
OSAKA — In Lewis Carroll's classic "Through the Looking Glass," Humpty Dumpty declares, in a rather scornful tone, that words mean what he chooses them to mean, no more no less.
When it comes to understanding their positions on the future of nuclear power, voters must feel a bit like Alice in political wonderland when they read the platforms and hear the statements of Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) and Nippon Mirai no To (Japan Future Party).
Nippon Ishin, in a section under "policy examples" in its manifesto released Thursday, says it will "fade out" existing nuclear power plants by the 2030s. But there is confusion over whether "fade out" means to abolish completely, and if so, why more decisive language was not used. Second, no mention is made of experimental reactors like Monju or plans to build new nuclear plants.
But Nippon Mirai's initial stated goal of wanting to "graduate" from nuclear energy raises questions about how the party would carry out leader Yukiko Kada's pledge to go to "zero" nuclear plants by 2022, although she has admitted that figuring out what to do with spent nuclear fuel won't be solved by then.
Given the sensitivity of the nuclear issue and internal divisions on how to handle it, voters seeking further clarity from both parties may find themselves down the rabbit hole.