Opinions on future energy policy posted on government website

Kyodo

The government has posted on a website some of the nearly 90,000 opinions it received from the public on devising a new national energy policy following the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

Officials plan to start assessing the opinions this week with experts. It said the remaining views will be released in the near future.

The government solicited comments and held public hearings nationwide on reducing reliance on nuclear energy by 2030 to zero, 15 percent or 20 to 25 percent, compared with 26 percent in 2010.

The number of comments received in the six weeks through Aug. 12 was extremely high. Usually when the government solicits public opinion, anything more than 1,000 is considered a strong response rate. The period for submitting opinions on nuclear power has expired.

The comments released so far can be found at www.npu.go.jp. Also publicized were about 1,000 responses to a questionnaire collected at the public hearings.

In a related development, a group including researchers, an environmental body and others on Friday announced preliminary results of a survey assessing how opinions changed after attending one of the hearings.

The poll Aug. 12 in Tokyo covered 57 people. It found 56 percent preferred the zero option after one of the meetings, up from 51 percent beforehand.

After the event, 23 percent backed the 15 percent option, down from 26 percent, and 14 percent wanted the 20 to 25 percent option, up from 12 percent.

The government is also expected to release this week the results of a separate two-day deliberative opinion poll conducted through Aug. 5 in Tokyo.