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LDP stands out in candidates' support for nuclear power ahead of election: survey

Decommissioning works are seen continuing at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, in this image taken from a Mainichi Shimbun helicopter on Feb. 14, 2019. A multitude of treated water storage tanks can be seen behind the reactor buildings. (Mainichi/ Koichiro Tezuka)

TOKYO -- Candidates running on the ticket of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in the July 21 House of Councillors election stood out in their support for maintaining nuclear power generation in Japan in a recent Mainichi Shimbun questionnaire of all candidates in the race.

The poll asked all 370 candidates about their views on key policy issues, to which 349 of them had responded by July 9.

With regard to a question of whether Japan needs to maintain nuclear power, 60 candidates answered that it is necessary, accounting for 17% of all respondents to the survey. Of them, 40 were candidates running on the LDP ticket.

The largest group of respondents, at 41%, said Japan doesn't need atomic power. Apart from the LDP, there was only one candidate who voiced support for keeping nuclear power among candidates backed by major political parties. The pro-nuclear candidate, who is running from the opposition Democratic Party for the People (DPFP), is backed by electric power-related workers' unions.

Thirty-two percent of all respondents chose an option stating Japan needs to maintain nuclear power for the time being but should eliminate it in the future. The option was picked by 34% of LDP candidates and 96% of candidates of the LDP's junior coalition partner Komeito -- or by 26 and 22 candidates, respectively. None of the LDP or Komeito candidates opted for an answer that Japan doesn't need atomic power.

The LDP's campaign pledge for the upper house contest advocates lowering Japan's dependence on nuclear power while pledging to promote reactivation of nuclear power stations in the country. At a debate among leaders of seven key political parties organized by the Japan National Press Club on July 3, Prime Minister and LDP President Shinzo Abe was the only party head who did not raise his hand when asked if they would not accept fresh construction or expansion of nuclear power plants.

Komeito also clearly states in its campaign promise that it will not allow construction of new atomic power stations.

Among opposition parties, 40 candidates running on the ticket of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDP), or 93% of CDP-backed candidates, as well as all those running from the Japanese Communist Party (JCP) and the Social Democratic Party (SDP), answered that Japan need not maintain nuclear power.

Opposition forces including the CDP, JCP and SDP have jointly submitted a basic bill aimed at breaking with nuclear power to the House of Representatives.

The DPFP, meanwhile, has many candidates backed by power utility-related labor unions and saw 68% of its candidates, at 19, opting for an answer calling for abolishing nuclear plants in the future.

The conservative opposition Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party) saw 81% of its candidates, at 17, selecting the future elimination of atomic power.


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