Abe pushes back against Koizumi


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Friday the nation can’t immediately end its dependence on nuclear energy, rejecting a push by a predecessor, Junichiro Koizumi, to set this goal.

“The quality (of people’s lives) will be lost unless we supply electricity stably and cheaply,” Abe said on TV. “We cannot immediately reduce (the number of nuclear reactors) to zero.”

But he also said he wants to “lessen dependence on nuclear energy.”

An early version of the government’s new long-term energy plan said nuclear power is important despite deepening public concerns following the Fukushima crisis.

All 50 commercial reactors are currently offline due to safety concerns. Abe’s remarks as well as the draft energy plan are seen as supporting the possible resumption of reactors that satisfy the new safety requirements.

Koizumi, a former prime minister whom Abe calls his teacher in politics, has called for the current administration to break away from nuclear energy. The retired lawmaker says that once a leader makes such a tough decision, there would not be much opposition.

But Abe said Friday alternative energy sources have their own problems, including high costs.

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