JAPAN | LDP sets up task force to review party’s nuclear policy

Posted on July 6, 2011

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JAPAN | ASAHI SHIMBUN | 6 July 2011

Ichita Yamamoto (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Lawmakers in the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party set up a task force to review the party’s nuclear power policies, which many say contributed to the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant crisis.

The task force, led by Ichita Yamamoto, chairman of the LDP’s Upper House policy affairs council, was created on July 5, about three months after pro-nuclear LDP members established Energy Seisaku Godo Kaigi (Joint council on energy policies).

Both groups will work separately on discussing the nation’s general energy policy.

The LDP had taken a pro-nuclear power stance during its half-century of nearly uninterrupted rule, until September 2009. Many LDP lawmakers have had strong ties with the electric power industry, leading to accusations of collusion and lax safety measures.

Yamamoto was chosen to head the task force because he has few connections with the utilities.

The establishment of the task force also creates a sort of buffer for the LDP if embattled Prime Minister Naoto Kan plays his trump card and dissolves the Lower House for a snap election.

Kan, who is now taking an anti-nuclear stance, has suggested he would make such an election a referendum on Japan’s continued use of nuclear power.

Yamamoto said the task force will scrutinize all past and current energy policies, and will voice criticism even if it finds fault with the LDP’s actions.

However, since such criticism could damage public perception of the LDP, much remains uncertain of how far the task force can probe into the past policies.

The group will discuss the special measures bill on renewable energy sources, as well as policies that combine nuclear and natural energy. It will compile an interim report in early August.

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Posted in: JAPAN