Japan anti-nuclear groups join forces ahead of election

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 November, 2012, 1:03pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 November, 2012, 4:31pm

Anti-nuclear parties were coalescing into a new political grouping on Wednesday, as Japan’s fragmented electoral landscape shifts ahead of next month’s national poll.

At least three recently-sprouted parties were readying to fold into Mirai No To (The Future of Japan Party) on a platform of ridding the Fukushima-scarred country of atomic power.

The party is being headed by a high-profile regional politician, Yukiko Kada, and its formation comes as opinion polls show the December 16 election is likely to leave no political party with sufficient seats to govern alone.

“We will create a new party, in response to people saying they don’t have any party to choose from at the moment,” Kada said near Lake Biwa, Japan’s largest, in a region with a number of ageing nuclear reactors.

Japan must “graduate from nuclear power”, the 62-year-old governor of Shiga prefecture in western Japan said. She later suggested a ten-year period would be required.

The governing Democratic Party of Japan on Tuesday declared its aim of weaning the country off nuclear power by the end of the 2030s.

Its opinion poll-leading opponent, the Liberal Democratic Party, has criticised anti-nuclear policies as “irresponsible” and unrealistic. The business-friendly bloc is broadly supportive of nuclear, which advocates say is essential if Japan is going to be able to power its industries.

The tsunami-sparked disaster at Fukushima, where reactors melted down and spewed radiation into the air and sea, has engendered a vocal anti-nuclear movement in usually-quiescent Japan.

Ahead of next month’s election of lower house lawmakers, small single-issue parties have mushroomed and the establishment of Mirai No To is an attempt to consolidate their fractured support.

Kada told reporters on Wednesday she wanted to field about 100 candidates and already had more than 70 ready to fight for the 480 available seats, with many more volunteers waiting in the wings.

The party – which was to be officially registered in Tokyo on Wednesday afternoon -- already boasts support from luminaries including Oscar-winning composer Ryuichi Sakamoto and management guru Kazuo Inamori, who helped rebuild Japan Airlines after it filed for bankruptcy.

Ichiro Ozawa, Japan’s one-time political kingmaker who stormed out of the DPJ to form his own party earlier this year, was set to dissolve the group and join Kada.

The tiny Green Wind has also agreed to field its three former lower house members under Kada’s umbrella, local reports said, as had one other small grouping.