Maehara speaks out for continued export of nuclear reactors


Staff Writer

Drawing on its technology and experience, Japan should continue to export nuclear reactors despite the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant, ruling party policy chief Seiji Maehara said Wednesday.

“I think trust in the safety of Japanese nuclear power plants hasn’t wavered,” the Democratic Party of Japan lawmaker said in a group interview with the Japan Times, citing ongoing talks with Vietnam, Hitachi Ltd.’s talks with Lithuania and the power plant venture between Hitachi and General Electric Co.

Maehara, 49, pushed for exporting reactors to Vietnam when he was foreign minister under Prime Minister Naoto Kan, who resigned earlier this month.

“We’re responsible for investigating the cause of the crisis, reinforcing safety measures, applying technology to improve safety and sharing such technology with the world,” he said.

In the interview, he also said the government should sell shares in Japan Post Holdings Co. to redeem government bonds issued to fund reconstruction efforts in the Tohoku region.

The cost of postdisaster reconstruction is expected to reach ¥16.6 trillion, and the government plans to gather ¥5 trillion in nontax revenue by selling government assets and cutting spending to minimize the size of future tax hikes.

Maehara stepped down as foreign minister in March after admitting he received ¥50,000 from a Korean woman with a Japanese name. In August, he acknowledged he received a combined ¥590,000 from four foreigners and a firm headed by a foreigner between 2005 and 2010. He returned all of the money and said he was either unaware of the donations or that the donors were foreigners. The Political Funds Control Law bans contributions from foreigners.

Maehara, who was DPJ president from September 2005 to April 2006, ran in the DPJ presidential election last month instead of supporting longtime ally Yoshihiko Noda, who won the race and became prime minister.

Both Maehara and Noda are graduates of Matsushita Institute of Government and Management, better known as Matsuhista Seikei Juku, a private school for grooming future leaders that was established by the founder of the Panasonic group, the late Konosuke Matsushita.

A media poll in August showed Maehara was the most popular candidate with the public. He also is a vocal critic of indicted party kingpin Ichiro Ozawa.