Two-thirds back Kan over Hamaoka closure

Kyodo

Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s decision to request the closure of the Hamaoka nuclear power plant was supported by 66.2 percent of the public, according to the results of a poll released Sunday.

About 47.0 percent of the respondents also backed the idea of reducing the number of reactors in the country. The weekend telephone poll said those who think Kan should resign immediately has dropped to 17.5 percent, down 6.1 points from the previous poll in April.

It also said his Cabinet’s approval rating had risen 1.3 points to 28.1 percent. Opposition to the Cabinet remained high, however, at 57.4 percent.

As for the closure of the Hamaoka nuclear power plant in Shizuoka Prefecture, which was halted Saturday at Kan’s request, 29.7 percent said they did not support the decision.

While a significant number of respondents called for a reduction in nuclear power plants, 57.9 percent approved the government’s decision to limit reactor closures to Hamaoka, apparently reflecting public concern about potential power shortages.

With regard to state efforts to help the victims of the March 11 disasters and rebuild damaged areas, 50.4 percent were critical but 47.5 percent expressed approval, down from 57.9 percent who answered a similar question in March. The poll also said 66.5 percent would oppose raising electricity charges to help Tokyo Electric Power Co. compensate people for the nuclear crisis at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 power plant, while 29.8 percent said they would support the levy.

Asked about the idea of raising taxes to fund reconstruction from the quake and tsunami, 50.3 percent supported the idea and 46.6 percent opposed it.

The poll covered 1,013 eligible voters, excluding those residing in some areas of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures that were hit hard by the disaster.

Safety measures urged

A group of lawyers and others pressuring the government to abandon nuclear power are planning to sue to keep the Hamaoka nuclear power plant closed until more thorough safety measures are in place, members of the group said.

The plant, which was built on an active fault zone in Shizuoka Prefecture, was shut down Saturday at the direction of the prime minister. The group, however, thinks measures being taken to secure the plant’s safety are insufficient and will file a lawsuit with the Shizuoka District Court, the group said Saturday.

The grounds of the Hamaoka complex, run by Chubu Electric Power Co., are at risk of liquefaction because a river used to run through it, and because tsunami far larger than those assumed so far could swamp the area if the widely anticipated Tokai earthquake slams the area, the group says.

Since reactors 1 and 2 are already shut down and set for decommissioning, the group wants reactors 3 to 5 to be suspended indefinitely until additional safety steps are taken to supplement the planned 15-meter-high breakwater, which it thinks is not enough to protect the facility from tsunami damage.