Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, right, and former Prime Minister Naoto Kan at a Lower House Budget Committee session on Feb. 6
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and predecessor Naoto Kan had a rare face-to-face showdown at a Lower House Budget Committee session over their nuclear energy policies on Feb. 6.
Abe admitted that his Liberal Democratic Party shares partial responsibility for failing to prevent the Fukushima nuclear emergency, but slammed those who advocate abandoning nuclear power generation as irresponsible.
The triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, triggered by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster, occurred when the now-disbanded Democratic Party of Japan was in power and Kan was prime minister. He is now a member of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan.
Most of the nation’s nuclear plants were built on the back of the LDP’s energy policy during the party’s long stints in power.
“The LDP did not give sufficient consideration to (safety issues of) nuclear facilities while it was in power (before the DPJ’s tenure), did it?” Kan accused Abe. “The LDP should admit its part in failing to prevent the Fukushima accident.”
Abe responded: “That is absolutely correct. The government and the nuclear plant operator were blinded by the safety myth (that nothing catastrophic could happen to a Japanese nuclear power plant), and that caused such tragedy.”
Abe also blasted the no-nuclear plant policy promoted by former LDP Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and like-minded lawmakers from opposition parties, saying he “cannot recognize it as a responsible energy policy.”
In an argument over the true cost of nuclear power generation, neither Abe nor Kan would budge from their viewpoints.
Abe indicated he will continue to support restarting nuclear plants around Japan, saying “power bills paid by typical households rose by about 10 percent (on average) while many nuclear plants remained offline.”
Kan condemned Abe’s position as “calculating only what is convenient for yourself,” pointing out that the cost for dealing with the accident’s aftermath and radiation contamination has already more than doubled from what was initially expected.