Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has publicly shrugged off calls by former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to quit nuclear power by going on TV and reaffirming his plans to restart the nation’s idled reactors.
“It is irresponsible to promise at this point to scrap nuclear energy,” Abe said on a prerecorded TV program Thursday, repeating his stance on restarts in light of the Fukushima nuclear crisis.
In the House of Representatives last week, Abe responded to an anti-nuclear opposition lawmaker who mentioned Koizumi’s remarks by saying his government would pursue a responsible energy policy. Koizumi, who led Japan between 2001 and 2006, has retired but remains popular with the public.
Earlier this month, he called on the Abe government to end nuclear power after the world’s worst nuclear catastrophe since Chernobyl took place at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 power plant in March 2011.
“The country’s wealth is flowing out,” Abe said, noting that the nation’s utilities are spending nearly ¥4 trillion a year to import fuel for thermal power generation to offset the loss of atomic power from the reactor-safety shutdowns. “We will be in big trouble if the situation continues,” he warned.
Abe’s economic plans, dubbed “Abenomics,” have played a major role in jacking up fuel costs by weakening the yen by 20 percent since late last year, driving up the cost of imports — and most of the gains in the consumer price index.