JAPAN | 51 percent opposed to restarting nuclear reactors in Japan: Mainichi poll

Posted on July 4, 2011

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JAPAN | MAINICHI |  July 4, 2011

In this photo taken on March 31, 2011 by the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and released by Japan Defense Ministry on, April 1, JMSDF personnel all in protective suits are aboard a tugboat towing a U.S. military barge carrying pure water towards the quay of the tsunami-stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear complex in Okumamachi, Fukushima Prefecture. (AP Photo/Japan Defense Ministry)

More than 50 percent of people in Japan do not want nuclear reactors that have been taken out of operation to be restarted, a Mainichi poll suggests.

A total of 51 percent of respondents in a Mainichi Shimbun poll conducted over the weekend said they were opposed to restarting nuclear reactors that have been stopped for inspections, surpassing the 37 percent who said they wanted the reactors to be restarted.

Fearing a shortage of electricity this summer, the government has issued a nuclear power safety declaration and asked local officials in Saga Prefecture to restart the Genkai Nuclear Power Plant in the prefecture. However, it appears that the public has grown cautious about restarting reactors in the wake of the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant.

By gender, 41 percent of men opposed the restarting of reactors and 51 percent were in favor, but at the same time 58 percent of women were opposed and just 27 percent were in favor.

A total of 60 percent of respondents said they would accept an increase in electricity prices to support the increased use of natural energy such as solar and wind power. Another 31 percent said they could not accept a hike. Among those in favor of restarting nuclear reactors, 68 percent said they would accept an increase to support natural energy.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan has made the enactment of a bill on set-price purchasing of renewable energy in a move toward increased use of natural energy as one of the three conditions for his retirement from office. Economic quarters fear the possibility of rising costs associated with an increase in power fees, but the results of the poll suggest that regardless of whether nuclear power plants are restarted or not, people believe there is a need in the future to do away with nuclear power plants and switch to natural energy.

In this March 20, 2011 aerial file photo taken by a small unmanned drone and released by Air Photo Service, the crippled Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant is seen in Okumamachi, Fukushima prefecture. From top to bottom: Unit 1, Unit 2, Unit 3 and Unit 4.  (AP Photo/Air Photo Service)

In this March 20, 2011 aerial file photo taken by a small unmanned drone and released by Air Photo Service, the crippled Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant is seen in Okumamachi, Fukushima prefecture. From top to bottom: Unit 1, Unit 2, Unit 3 and Unit 4. (AP Photo/Air Photo Service)

The poll showed that just 18 percent of people opposed to restarting nuclear power plants supported Kan’s Cabinet. Among those who would permit a rise in electricity costs to support increased use of natural energy, the support rate was 22 percent. The figures indicate that people’s desire to do away with nuclear power is not directly associated with support for the prime minister.

Earlier polls conducted by the Mainichi Shimbun in April and May asked people the same questions. This time 45 percent of respondents said that the number of nuclear power plants should be decreased, 2 percentage points below the figure recorded in the May poll. A total of 17 percent said nuclear power plants should be done away with altogether — 5 percentage points above the mark recorded in May. Combined, roughly 60 percent of respondents want to reduce nuclear power in Japan. A total of 30 percent said Japan’s reliance on nuclear power “couldn’t be helped” — one percentage point below the figure in the May poll.

A total of 53 percent of respondents said they were in favor of a tax increase to finance restoration measures following the March 11 disaster — 5 percentage points up from May. A total of 38 percent were opposed — a drop of 3 percentage points. The ruling Democratic Party of Japan plans to increase income and corporate taxes over a set amount of time to provide finances for restoration bonds.

The poll, conducted by telephone over a two-day period, obtained responses from 1,129 people, marking a response rate of 73 percent. Areas hit badly by the March 11 disaster, including coastal areas of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures were excluded.

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