National / Politics

Koizumi condemns Abe's policy of continuing use of nuclear power

Kyodo

Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, who has become a resolute anti-nuclear campaigner following the 2011 Fukushima No. 1 meltdowns, criticized on Thursday the government’s plan to continue using nuclear power, saying it is “in breach of the election pledge” to lower reliance on nuclear power generation.

The government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who sees Koizumi as a political mentor, plans for nuclear power to account for 20 percent to 22 percent of Japan’s total electricity output in 2030, compared with around 30 percent before the world’s worst nuclear crisis since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

Speaking at a press conference in Kagoshima Prefecture, Koizumi said the prime minister is “moving against the direction of lowering reliance on nuclear power as much as possible” as pledged by Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party during campaigning for the lower house election last year.

“Has he already forgotten what he said during the election?” asked Koizumi.

The former prime minister also criticized the government’s plan to reactivate Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Sendai nuclear plant located in Kagoshima as early as this summer. The complex is expected to become the first nuclear facility to be restarted under a new set of tighter safety regulations introduced after the Fukushima crisis started.

Koizumi said Japan could “go without nuclear power” if Abe made up his mind to do so, urging him to reconsider the resumption plan. It is one of the very rare occasions “when a prime minister can play a historic role,” Koizumi said.

Referring to the recent volcanic eruption on a small, remote island in Kagoshima that forced all of the residents to evacuate, Koizumi added Japan is a “country which should not have nuclear power” given Japan is prone to natural disasters such as earthquakes and eruptions.