JAPAN | Kan under fire from Cabinet for advocating nuclear-free society

Posted on July 15, 2011

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JAPAN | MAINICHI | 15 July 2011

Prime Minister Naoto Kan drew fire from members of his Cabinet on July 15 for advocating a society free of nuclear power in the aftermath of the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant.

Kansei Nakano, chairman of the National Public Safety Commission, led the charge, telling an informal meeting of Cabinet ministers, “We ministers never heard about this before. We want the prime minister to explain his real intentions and the content of his remarks.”

Kan has defended his comments, saying, “I thought it was time to convey my own resolve” to achieve a society that does not depend on nuclear energy.

At the informal gathering, some members of his Cabinet proposed another meeting of Cabinet members to talk about Japan’s nuclear power policy. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano signaled readiness to hold such a session early next week.

Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda said at a news conference, “I took it as his personal opinion,” adding the premier’s remarks do not represent government policy.

Akihiro Ohata, minister of land, infrastructure, transport and tourism, said he believes that Kan’s remarks on July 13 on bringing Japan’s dependence on nuclear energy to an end summarize the premier’s personal view.

National policy minister Koichiro Genba commented, “If we are to reduce the number of nuclear power plants to zero, there should be full-scale debate, including on the nuclear fuel cycle. We shouldn’t rush to reach a conclusion.”

Goshi Hosono, minister in charge of nuclear accidents, said, “It will be very difficult now to build new nuclear power plants. Reducing Japan’s dependence on nuclear power plants is not policy debate but reality.”

Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa, who works closely with Kan, said, “It is natural to seriously discuss the prime minister’s appeal to the public.”

Justice Minister Satsuki Eda also defended the premier, saying, “The prime minister raised the issue of nuclear energy. He is headed in the right direction.”

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