Since spring, former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has become increasingly vocal in his opposition to nuclear power. Though he decided Japan should abandon atomic reactors after the Great East Japan Earthquake set in motion the Fukushima crisis, he was already retired from politics. The mass media paid no attention.

Then he sat for an interview with the Mainichi Shimbun in summer and described a trip he took to Europe, at his own initiative and in the company of several nuclear industry executives, to inspect the Onkalo nuclear-waste repository in Finland and the situation in Germany, which has moved away from atomic energy. Despite the presence of men whose job it was to convince him otherwise, he returned even more resolute in his belief that Japan must reject nuclear.

The response has been divided along predictably ideological lines. Politicians who are against the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's plan to reopen as many plants as possible are delighted to have the former president of the LDP on their side. Since Koizumi is one of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's mentors it might be bad form to criticize him, but last week he called Koizumi's idea "irresponsible" on TV Asahi.