Japan’s Former Leader Urges Political Debate on Nuclear Ban

Former Prime Minister Naoto Kan, who last year presided over the initial response to Japan’s biggest crisis since World War II, today urged the nation’s political leaders to debate banning nuclear power generation.

Submission of legislation on a nuclear-free mix of energy sources would mean each party, or even individual members of the Diet, would have to show support or opposition, Kan, 65, said in Tokyo.

“Forming a green party may be one option,” Kan said at a symposium at International Christian University. “We could have significant influence through a political force in which every single member supports a nuclear-free Japan.”

A government body deliberating energy supply after the 2011 Fukushima disaster proposed four scenarios last month, including one that would end the use of nuclear power by 2030. Japan is reopening plants after business leaders warned power outages may lead to factory closures and slow economic growth.

Nuclear plants provided 26 percent of the country’s electricity and renewable sources accounted for 11 percent for the year ended March 2011, according to the panel’s draft report.

Prior to the disaster, the government aimed by 2030 to increase electricity supplied by nuclear power to 45 percent and clean energy to 20 percent.


Under the nuclear-free scenario, wind and solar power would provide 12 percent and 6 percent of Japan’s electricity, respectively, according to estimates in the report. Hydropower would account for 11 percent, while geothermal energy would provide 4 percent, it said.

Two other scenarios included nuclear, with one option for Japan to get about 15 percent of its electricity from atomic energy, while the other proposed between 20 percent to 25 percent. The panel also recommended a scenario with no numerical targets for specific energy sources, instead allowing market forces and mechanisms to decide.

Since stepping down last August, Kan serves as an adviser to the Tokyo-based Renewable Energy Research Association.

“I have two infant grandchildren, and I don’t want them to have to live with nuclear power plants,” Kan said.

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