OSAKA – The ruling Liberal Democratic Party was the sole opponent of abolishing nuclear power in a policy debate involving the secretaries-general of nine major political parties Saturday.
While the representatives of the eight other parties backed ridding Japan of atomic energy generation, LDP Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba said lawmakers should not mislead the public by calling for a zero-nuclear option. Ishiba said the LDP will aim to reduce the nation’s dependence on atomic energy but underscored his party’s plans to push for a restart of idled reactors once they are deemed safe.
“If we don’t (suggest) ways to reduce dependence on nuclear power, it is not responsible politics,” said Ishiba. “(Other parties) should not delude the public by using phrases like ‘zero nuclear power.’ “
But Ishiba found himself in a minority of one, as the secretaries-general of New Komeito, the LDP’s junior coalition partner, and opposition groups including the Democratic Party of Japan and Your Party voiced support for the elimination of all nuclear power plants.
During the debate, held in Osaka ahead of the Upper House election, the secretaries-general were asked to hold up a board with either a circle or a cross to indicate their support or opposition for the zero-nuclear power goal. Ishiba was the only one to hoist a cross in the air.
Among the proponents, Japanese Communist Party Secretary-General Tadayoshi Ichida said it would be inconceivable to restart reactors or export Japan’s nuclear technologies given that the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 plant has yet to be resolved. His Your Party counterpart, Kenji Eda, said it would be irresponsible to bring reactors back online when locations for disposal facilities for spent nuclear fuel have yet to be decided.
Among other issues likely to dominate campaigning for the July 21 House of Councilors poll, the party representatives debated Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s proposed constitutional revision and his government’s promotion of nuclear-related exports.
On Abe’s plan to water down Article 96 to make it easier to amend the Constitution, the LDP’s Ishiba and his Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) counterpart voiced support.
But DPJ Secretary-General Goshi Hosono slammed Abe and said efforts should be made to retain the two-thirds majority requirement needed in both chambers of the Diet for any constitutional amendment, as currently stipulated by Article 96.
New Komeito’s Yoshihisa Inoue supported him, saying that altering the charter should not be proposed before the public has thoroughly debated the issue.