Koizumi defends anti-nuclear drive, seeks policy change

Kyodo, JIJI

Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi defended his anti-nuclear stance Sunday, urging the government, in light of the meltdown calamity at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant that started in 2011, to drop its quest to restart atomic power generation.

Koizumi brushed off criticism that he was “irresponsible” for calling on Japan to phase out nuclear power, saying in Yokohama that the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe “should discuss how to introduce renewable energy that would substitute for atomic power.”

The former leader, who promoted nuclear power when he was in power, justified his change of attitude, saying, “People often change their minds.” As an example, he referred to the fact that Japan became an ally of the United States after World War II, even though the two countries were enemies during the war.

He said it would be impossible to build a permanent disposal site for spent nuclear fuel and other radioactive waste in Japan due to opposition from local residents.

“Instead of using a vast amount of money on such matters, it would be better to spend (money) on developing many kinds of energy sources that make use of nature,” he said.

Koizumi also pointed out that a disposal site was not built even before the Fukushima nuclear disaster started.

“If a strong leader emerges, can he or she achieve the construction of a site that can be used for 100,000 years by ignoring opposition of local residents?” Koizumi asked. “It would be optimistic and irresponsible to think that it is possible.”

Koizumi is scheduled to speak about Japan’s energy policy at a press conference at the Japan National Press Club on Nov. 12.