Election of New Tokyo Gov Could Signal Restart of Japan’s Idling Nuclear Power Plants?

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By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | February 12, 2014 5:02 PM EST

Tokyo has a new governor, Yoichi Masuzoe. And with his election, observers believed it won't be long before some, if not all, of Japan's idling nuclear power plants get to restart again.


A file photo of TEPCO's President Hirose and company officials wearing protective suits and masks inspecting an underground water storage pool at TEPCO's tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Fukushima prefecture - (Reuters)

When Mr Masuzoe won on Sunday, the national government sensed a waning interest in nuclear safety largely because when the people supported the new Tokyo governor, they also supported his platform. Mr Masuzoe is all for restarting Japan's 48 nuclear power plants amid the safety scare brought by the Fukushima plant, crippled by a tsunami, in March 2011.

On Monday, Shinzo Abe, Japan's current prime minister, emboldened by Mr Masuzoe's electoral results, said his government will soon announce a "realistic and balanced" energy strategy. Government targets the announcement by end of this fiscal year, ending in March.

The draft plan, which defined nuclear power generation as an "important basic source of electricity that is part of the nation's infrastructure," hopes to rekindle 10 nuclear power reactors by summer.

"The no-nukes candidates lost, but that doesn't mean there is suddenly a consensus in favor of nuclear power," the New York Times quoted Shiro Asano, a retired professor of politics at Keio University.

Yet, the people of Japan have been seen as indecisive and lacking in firm courage to put a foot down and firmly plant it on the ground on the matter of rekindling the nuclear plants.

They have elected Mr Abe who is a staunch believer of the benefits of nuclear power. And this time, Mr Masuzoe who had the support of the national government.

The Japanese people seemed to have yet really feel the brunt of its indecisiveness because they continued to live comfortably despite the horrors of the nuclear tragedy.

"There have been no deaths from radiation from Fukushima. What we have seen is a worldwide panic caused by uninformed public fear," Wade Allison, emeritus professor of physics at the University of Oxford, was quoted by Deutsche Welle.

"We have an extraordinarily beneficial relationship with nuclear energy and instead of shunning it, we should embrace it," Mr Allison added, noting there may be lots of things that threaten our lives, "but nuclear energy is not one of them."

"People cannot feel the economic damage now because of the overall lift from Abenomics," Koji Nomura, an economics professor at Keio University in Tokyo, said. "But this is a bill that will come due."

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(Photo: / )
A file photo of TEPCO's President Hirose and company officials wearing protective suits and masks inspecting an underground water storage pool at TEPCO's tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Fukushima prefecture - (Reuters)
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