Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, center, appears at a Niigata gathering on Nov. 4 with Niigata Governor Ryuichi Yoneyama, right, and Niigata Mayor Akira Shinoda.
NIIGATA–An anti-nuclear stance taken by opposition parties could lift them from their doldrums and defeat the ruling coalition, former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said, pointing to the recent Niigata governor’s election.
“We now know that the ruling parties will lose if the opposition parties back a unified candidate and focus on a nuclear-free energy policy in the campaign,” Koizumi said at a gathering here on Nov. 4. “The effects of this have not yet surfaced but they are huge.”
Koizumi cited the victory by Niigata Governor Ryuichi Yoneyama, who was backed by the opposition Japanese Communist Party, Social Democratic Party and Liberal Party. Running on a plank urging caution about restarting the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in the prefecture, Yoneyama defeated a candidate supported by the ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito.
The former prime minister said Yoneyama’s win should be a wake-up call to both ruling and opposition parties to focus on nuclear energy in the next national election.
“If the opposition parties realize the significance of this, the LDP cannot feel complacent,” Koizumi told reporters at the gathering. “If the opposition parties change, the LDP will also be forced to change.”
However, Koizumi scratched his head at the inability of the largest opposition party, the Democratic Party, to come out clearly against nuclear energy. The party’s major backer, Rengo, the Japanese Trade Union Confederation, includes unions made up of employees of electric power companies.
For that reason, the Democratic Party did not formally support Yoneyama in the Niigata gubernatorial election.
“There are only about half a million votes from labor unions with ties to electric power companies and that support nuclear energy,” Koizumi told reporters. “I wonder why the party does not make the effort to win 5 million or 50 million votes.”
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