The Democratic Party on Sunday postponed adopting a bold target of slashing the nation’s reliance on nuclear power to zero by 2030, shying away from what would have been a decisive declaration against Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s pro-nuclear stance.
At its annual convention, held in Tokyo, Renho, president of the struggling main opposition party, stopped short of upgrading its current goal of pursuing a nuclear-free Japan by the end of the 2030s.
Prior to the convention, media speculation was rife that she would advance the deadline by up to nine years to 2030 in a bid to demonstrate the DP’s stronger commitment to eliminating the nation’s reliance on nuclear power.
Such an ambitious target would have helped the DP, which grapples with a perennially low support rate of around 8 percent, position itself as a clearer alternative to Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party, which is pushing for reactivation of nuclear reactors that have been offline following the March 2011 tsunami-triggered meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant.
Her decision not to set the 2030 deadline for a nuclear-free society apparently reflects resistance from labor union Rengo, the DP’s main support base, which counts among its participating unions the Federation of Electric Power Related Industry Worker’s Union of Japan.
Nonetheless, Renho emphasized that the DP will not backtrack from its current anti-nuclear position, unveiling a plan to draft what she described as a bill promoting a “zero-nuclear” policy.
The DP leader, however, stopped short of clarifying a timeline for the submission of such legislation or elaborating on its content.
“As we brace for a Lower House snap election, we will draft the zero-nuclear bill to realize a departure from our current reliance on nuclear power as soon as possible,” Renho told party members at the convention.
“We will envision a different future than that upheld by the current administration, which is promoting a return into nuclear reliance by blindly marching toward the reactivation of reactors.”
During a news conference after the convention, Renho said an energy policy council headed by DP lawmaker Koichiro Genba will swiftly go about discussing details of the bill and hold meetings as frequently as possible.
High-ranking DP lawmakers also hewed to Renho’s assertion that the DP remains as committed as ever to seeking the phaseout of nuclear power.
For one, former Prime Minister Naoto Kan, who was in office when the nuclear crisis struck the nation in 2011, offered staunch backing for the zero-nuclear bill.
Noting that nuclear industries worldwide are increasingly on the decline, Kan said such legislation “is in line with the global trend.”
“A shift to renewable energy is the unavoidable choice for Japan,” he said.
At the convention, Renho also renewed her party’s vow to offer free education to children and boost female representation in the world of politics.