Wife of Japan's Shinzo Abe opposes plan to build nuclear reactors abroad
The wife of Japan's pro-business prime minister, Shinzo Abe, does not like nuclear power and would rather her husband's government did not try to export it, she said in a speech.
In comments that appeared to run against the grain of government thinking, which is increasingly moving towards switching mothballed reactors back on, Akie Abe said Japan should press on instead with renewables.
"I feel bad that Japan is trying to sell nuclear power plants overseas because I am anti-nuclear," the prime minister's wife said during her closed-door speech at an event last Thursday organised by a non-profit group that supports farming communities.
"I admit it is an important technology that Japan has," she said, according to footage posted on the website of the organiser. "I think Japan should use part of the money being spent for nuclear power for developing new energy and try to sell Japan-made clean energy abroad."
Nuclear power has been a sensitive issue in Japan since a quake and tsunami wiped out the Fukushima atomic plant in 2011, sparking the world's worst nuclear disaster in 25 years and contaminating the environment.
All but two of Japan's 50 viable reactors remain shut amid public nervousness over safety in an industry that is widely seen as overly cosy with government and regulators.
However, despite vocal public opposition, the prime minister has said he wants to restart units when they are proven safe. And his recently unveiled bid to treble Japan's infrastructure exports to 30 trillion yen (HK$2.4 trillion) a year, as part of an effort to boost the country's economy, will almost certainly have to include nuclear reactors.
Last month, Japan and Turkey signed a deal to build a sprawling nuclear power plant on Turkey's Black Sea coast. Japan also signed a nuclear co-operation deal with the United Arab Emirates.
Tokyo has also agreed with India to accelerate talks on civil nuclear co-operation.
After discussions in Tokyo on Friday, Shinzo Abe and French President Francois Hollande said they would co-operate in developing nuclear power technologies and promoting the sector's exports to emerging economies.