• Kyodo

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Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Sunday visited the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant for the first time since taking office to inspect its decommissioning progress.

Kishida told executives of the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., that decommissioning is a “prerequisite for reconstruction” of the northeastern region, devastated by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake, tsunami and subsequent nuclear crisis in 2011.

“I would like you to work steadily by valuing a relationship of trust with the local community,” said Kishida, who took office Oct. 4 after winning the leadership election of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

After inspecting the plant, which suffered multiple meltdowns, Kishida offered flowers and prayed at a monument to the disaster in Namie, a town that was once entirely off-limits due to the nuclear crisis.

Kishida dissolved the House of Representatives on Thursday for the Oct. 31 election, seeking a public mandate for his new government and policies.

Kishida and the ruling party have promoted the use of nuclear power. He has said the government will restart nuclear power plants that meet safety standards by gaining local consent to help Japan reach its goal of attaining carbon neutrality by 2050.

Most of Japan’s nuclear power plants remain offline following the 2011 disaster.

On Saturday, he visited areas damaged by the quake and tsunami in Iwate and Miyagi prefectures.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida offers a prayer at a tsunami memorial park in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, on Saturday. | POOL / VIA KYODO
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida offers a prayer at a tsunami memorial park in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, on Saturday. | POOL / VIA KYODO

Kishida offered flowers and prayed at a tsunami memorial park in the coastal city of Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture, the first stop on his visit to the Tohoku region to also hold discussions with local people.

In the nearby city of Ofunato, he spoke with people in the fisheries sector, saying, “I would like to take the opinions and incorporate them in my economic policy.”

In its campaign platform, the ruling party said it will speed up efforts to rebuild the northeastern region.

“Without reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake, there will be no revival of Japan,” Kishida said of the March 2011 disaster in his first policy speech in the Diet earlier this month.

“In keeping with my strong feelings on this, we will work exhaustively to realize assistance for victims of the disaster, the rebuilding of industries and livelihoods, and the reconstruction and revival of Fukushima.”

Kishida has set a Lower House majority of 233 seats for the LDP and its ruling coalition partner Komeito as a minimum target for the election. The two parties held 305 seats in the lower chamber before it was dissolved.

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