Osaka nuke plebiscite moves forward

Staff Report

A citizens’ group petitioning for plebiscites in Osaka and Tokyo on nuclear power said Tuesday, the final day of the campaign in Osaka, that it has collected about 53,000 signatures from registered voters in the Kansai city, far more than the 42,600 needed to demand that the municipal assembly hold the poll.

In Tokyo, where the petition drive will run until Feb. 9, about 78,000 signatures have been collected. Roughly 214,000 are needed to demand a plebiscite there.

The Osaka signatures have to be confirmed as valid by next Monday. At that point, Mayor Toru Hashimoto will receive the petition and a formal request to introduce a motion in the municipal assembly for the plebiscite. The assembly can approve or reject the motion by a simple majority vote.

However, Hashimoto, despite his calls for a gradual phaseout of nuclear power and a promise to raise the issue at the Kansai Electric Power Co. shareholders’ meeting in June, has reacted negatively to a plebiscite, saying it would be too costly.

The city is Kepco’s top shareholder, holding about 10 percent of its stock.