” More than 90 percent of respondents during a public comment period on the Abe administration’s basic energy policy were opposed to nuclear power generation, according to an Asahi Shimbun estimate released on May 25.
The Asahi Shimbun made the determination by tallying how many of 2,109 of about 19,000 comments sent to the government from December to January were in opposition.
Failing to take into account that overwhelming public sentiment, the Cabinet approved in April the basic energy policy, which described nuclear power generation as an “important base load electricity source.” The base load electricity source means that nuclear power will continue to be relied on to meet a percentage of the electricity demand, regardless of the season or time of day.
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry released on Dec. 6, 2013, the draft of the basic energy policy, the first compiled by the Abe administration since the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant triggered by the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.
After releasing the draft, the Abe administration gathered public comments for a month until Jan. 6 through e-mails, faxes and other means. In all, about 19,000 responses were sent to the government.
The industry ministry disclosed representative comments in February. However, it did not tally how many replies it received were for or against nuclear power generation.
“We paid attention not to the number of comments (for or against nuclear power generation) but to the contents of those comments,” industry minister Toshimitsu Motegi told the Diet in February.
The Asahi Shimbun asked the ministry to release all the comments under the information disclosure law. In response, the ministry disclosed 2,109 e-mails (totaling 2,301 pages) with the names of the senders redacted to protect their personal information.
The ministry said that it released e-mails that were submitted to the ministry early in the public comment period. It will decide by September whether it will release the remaining responses.
As for the 2,109 e-mails, The Asahi Shimbun counted how many were for or against nuclear power generation. It found that 2,008 of them, or 95.2 percent, opposed nuclear power generation. Only 33, or 1.6 percent, supported nuclear power. The remaining 68 e-mails, or 3.2 percent, were “other replies.”
As for the reasons why they opposed nuclear power generation, many of the 2,008 respondents said that the nuclear accident in Fukushima Prefecture has yet to be resolved or that there are no disposal sites for spent nuclear fuels. Some of the comments also criticized the draft plan, which regarded nuclear power as an important electricity source, for going against public opinion.
Respondents that supported nuclear power generation cited its low operating costs and other factors as reasons for their backing.
The previous administration, led by the Democratic Party of Japan, decided in 2012 to terminate nuclear power generation by the end of the 2030s. However, the Abe administration has taken a strong stance toward restarting the nation’s idled nuclear reactors after they pass new safety inspections. ”