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55% oppose restarting nuclear reactors, 26% in favor: Mainichi survey

The majority of respondents in a Mainichi Shimbun survey are opposed to resuming operations of nuclear reactors across Japan, largely surpassing the 26 percent who support it.

In the Mainichi opinion poll conducted on March 11 and 12, in which 1,012 people from 1,597 randomly selected households with at least one resident aged 18 or older responded, 55 percent said they were against the restart of nuclear reactors. The gap between the pros and cons has widened a little since the same survey was carried out in March last year, in which 53 percent opposed and 30 percent supported restarting nuclear reactors. Even among supporters of the Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the percentage of those against resuming operations of nuclear reactors tops that of those who support it.

The Abe Cabinet is moving ahead with resuming operations of idled reactors, but as of March 13 only the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors at Kyushu Electric Power Co.'s Sendai nuclear plant in Kagoshima Prefecture and the No. 3 reactor at Shikoku Electric Power Co.'s Ikata nuclear station in Ehime Prefecture were in operation.

At the same time, the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at Kansai Electric Power Co.'s Takahama nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture, which resumed operations in 2016, were subsequently suspended after the Otsu District Court in Shiga Prefecture issued an injunctive order.

The government plans to inject taxpayers' money in decontamination work starting in fiscal 2017 to prepare some areas in the no-go zones around the stricken Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant as base locations for disaster recovery.

When asked about this project, 47 percent of Mainichi respondents said the government should be careful about using taxpayers' money on decontamination work, while 34 percent supported the project, saying that it should aggressively use public funds to push radiation cleaning work forward. The public's reservations about the use of taxpayers' money apparently comes from the fact that Fukushima plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. has in principle shouldered expenses for decontamination work so far and that there are no prospects of locals returning to their hometowns that are under evacuation orders even after the disaster recovery base locations are set up.

Asked about whether people's interest in disaster-hit areas has waned as six years have passed since the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown, 24 percent said they often feel it has and 48 percent said they sometimes do. The figure has remained somewhat the same since the previous survey in March last year, which showed 79 percent in total thought people's interest in disaster-hit areas had decreased.

Meanwhile, 17 percent said they are actively saving electricity, while 49 percent said they are engaged in a little bit of power conservation. In a survey in July 2012, there were more than 80 percent of respondents in total who said they were either actively saving electric power or somewhat engaged in energy saving.

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