” TOKYO — Japan’s flagging antinuclear movement received an unexpected new recruit this week when one of the nation’s most popular figures, former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, made a very public about-face from his previous embrace of atomic power.
In a speech to business executives in Nagoya on Tuesday, Mr. Koizumi surprised many in the solidly pro-nuclear audience by saying that Japan should rid itself of its atomic plants and switch to renewable energy sources like solar power. His remarks were reported in the Tokyo Shimbun newspaper on Wednesday.
As a pro-growth prime minister from 2001 to 2006, Mr. Koizumi had backed the business lobby by calling for Japan to become “a nation built on nuclear power,” calling it cheap and clean, and sided with the Tokyo Electric Power Company in deciding to end tax-supported subsidies for solar panels. But he said in Tuesday’s speech that he had reversed his stance after the nuclear accident at Tepco’s Fukushima complex two and a half years ago, which left at least 83,000 people homeless and forced a multibillion-dollar cleanup that has been riddled with mistakes and accidents.
“There is nothing more costly than nuclear power,” Mr. Koizumi, 71, was quoted as saying. “Japan should achieve zero nuclear plants and aim for a more sustainable society.” … “