Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi gestures as he speaks at a hotel in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture, on Oct. 18, 2016
MATSUMOTO, Nagano — Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on Oct. 18 commented on the victory of an anti-nuclear newcomer in the Oct. 16 Niigata gubernatorial election, asking why the government isn’t giving up nuclear power when it can.
The newly elected governor, Ryuichi Yoneyama, has expressed a cautious view on the restart of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in Niigata Prefecture.
“He beat a candidate backed by the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), Komeito and the Japanese Trade Union Confederation, and it was an unexpected upset. I guess that the public has come to understand that nuclear power plants are dangerous, not safe,” Koizumi said during an address in the Nagano Prefecture city of Matsumoto.
He underscored the impact of the election, saying that if the opposition parties jointly field candidates in the next House of Representatives election and make the elimination of nuclear power plants the main focal point, “There’s no telling how the LDP will end up.”
Koizumi said that while he was in power, he believed the opinions of experts and thought that nuclear power plants were necessary. But his view on nuclear power changed in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
“With the Fukushima nuclear disaster, I realized that the descriptions of (atomic power) as safe, clean and low-cost were all lies.”
The former prime minister said he started efforts to eliminate all nuclear power plants in Japan after realizing the mistake and wanting to correct it and make amends. At times during his address, Koizumi raised his voice in earnest like he did when he was prime minister.
“They (the government) can eliminate nuclear power, so why don’t they?” he asked. “It’s time to turn a predicament into a chance.”