Japan’s Koizumi Backs Fellow Ex-PM in Opposing Nuclear Power
Tokyo – Two former Japanese prime ministers challenged incumbent Shinzo Abe’s pro-nuclear power policy on Tuesday, with charismatic Junichiro Koizumi backing ex-premier Morihiro Hosokawa’s bid to become Tokyo governor on a platform opposing atomic energy. Hosokawa’s candidacy could turn the local election into a referendum on Abe’s energy policies and boost the anti-nuclear movement, which has lost momentum after a surge following the March 2011 Fukushima disaster, the world’s worst nuclear accident in 25 years.
Surveys show most voters favor abandoning nuclear power, but the electorate nonetheless propelled Abe’s pro-nuclear Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) back to power in December 2012, largely because of his promises to revive the economy and divisions among anti-nuclear opposition forces.
Asked why he was coming out of retirement to seek the Tokyo governor post, Hosokawa, 76, told reporters: “Because I have a sense of crisis that Japan faces various problems, especially nuclear power that could imperil the fate of the country.” Koizumi, one of Japan’s most popular prime ministers from 2001 to 2006, has already nagged Abe with his anti-nuclear power pitch, a turnabout from the days when led the LDP.
“The biggest reason why I support Mr. Hosokawa is his view that Japan can prosper without nuclear power,” a silver-haired Koizumi, 72, told reporters. Hosokawa, heir to a samurai lineage, seized the imagination of a public weary of decades of scandal-tainted LDP rule when he formed the pro-reform Japan New Party in 1992. The next year, he took power at the head of a multi-party coalition that ousted the LDP for the first time in nearly 40 years. (Reuters)