Japanese anti-nuclear vote melts away

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Eight million people signed an Internet petition demanding an end to nuclear power and hundreds of thousands joined public protests. Yet Japan handed an election landslide to the most pro-atomic option on offer. Anti-nuclear activists have been left licking their wounds after the first national poll since the tsunami-sparked disaster at Fukushima saw an apparent melting away of public anger as the country welcomed back the establishment. “A problem was that political divisions emerged over when and how to stop nuclear power,” said Hideyuki Ban, co-director of the Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center, an anti-nuclear advocacy group. “It would have been ideal if the parties had came together under a simple, broad goal of ending nuclear power. But parties had to differentiate themselves from others for the election. Maybe it was inevitable,” he said. The Liberal Democratic Party bagged 294 of the 480 seats in the lower house, crushing their opponents, the biggest of which won only 57 seats. Where smaller parties offered an end to nuclear power — immediately, over ten years, or within three decades — the LDP pledged only to “decide” on reactor restarts within three years.