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Komeito to campaign for nuke phaseout, denies disconnect with LDP

by Ayako Mie

Staff Writer

New Komeito, the junior coalition partner of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, pledged Thursday to push for a nuclear phaseout at the earliest possible date and bolster the Constitution by adding more provisions, a sharp contrast to the LDP’s desire to promote atomic power and rewrite the national charter.

But New Komeito officials said the party aims to maintain policy consistency with the LDP while sticking to its core stands, including opposition to revising the war-renouncing Article 9, only to be vague on aspects of nuclear energy and constitutional revision.

Thursday’s policies are New Komeito’s campaign pledges for the upcoming Upper House election. The party already hammered out the first set of key policies earlier this month.

On atomic power, New Komeito retained its stance from December’s Lower House campaign, saying it will strive to achieve a nuclear-free society as soon as possible, including not allowing new nuclear plants to be built.

Asked about the discrepancy with LDP policy, the party stressed that it is in line with the coalition agreement that the government will gradually decrease reliance on nuclear power by capitalizing on renewable energy.

Yet the LDP’s platform says the party will scrap the target set by the Democratic Party of Japan, which was in power when the Fukushima meltdown catastrophe started, to phase out all nuclear power by the 2030s. The LDP also pledged to push for the export of nuclear power technology and other infrastructure.

Asked about this gap within the coalition, New Komeito policy chief Keiichi Ishii dodged the question, saying the government is in charge of diplomacy to export atomic power. Ishii also emphasized that New Komeito has not taken a stance on nuclear exports, even though he said earlier this month that exporting nuclear technology could be one way for Japan to make an international contribution.

On the Constitution, New Komeito said it will push to add more provisions, including environmental rights and a clause to achieve decentralization. Yet the party remained vague about Article 96, saying revising this provision should be discussed only within the context of overall reform.

The LDP plan to rewrite the Constitution starts with weakening Article 96, which requires a two-thirds majority vote in both Diet chambers to revise the charter before putting proposed changes before voters.