If only briefly, former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi raised hopes he will stage a comeback as an anti-nuclear crusader when he met Tuesday with the head of a minor but like-minded opposition party.
But, during their 45-minute meeting, Koizumi declined Social Democratic Party chief Tadatomo Yoshida’s request to cooperate with his five-Diet-member party’s push to abolish nuclear plants. According to Yoshida, Koizumi argued that it was the duty of each party and politician to appeal separately and directly to the public.
“I asked him to cooperate, but he said that each party, which has its own arguments, should try to realize the abolition of nuclear power plants,” Yoshida, who took charge of the SDP earlier this month, told reporters after the meeting.
Koizumi also insisted he is not planning to form a new party or a political force centered on anti-nuclear policy, Yoshida, said, noting Koizumi told him he will continue to seek to change public opinion, which will eventually influence the government.
Once the most powerful opposition party and a longtime foe of Koizumi’s Liberal Democratic Party, the SDP has advocated a nonnuclear energy policy for years. It is now a minor party, with five Diet members.
Koizumi met Yoshida at the Center for International Public Policy Studies in Tokyo, where Koizumi serves as an adviser.
After stepping down as prime minister in 2006, Koizumi, 74, largely withdrew from the public eye, rarely remarking on politics.
That changed earlier this year when he began calling for the abolition of nuclear plants after visiting a final disposal site in Finland that is supposed to store spent fuel up to 100,000 years.
The SDP is attempting to expand its political clout by calling on antinuclear political forces, such as Koizumi.
Officials at the prime minister’s office appear worried about Koizumi’s anti-nuclear call. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government has pledged to restart any of the now-shut 50 nuclear plants that pass Nuclear Regulation Authority safety tests.