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DP chief briefing labor unions on plan to move up schedule for eliminating nuclear plants

Democratic Party (DP) President Renho is holding meetings with labor unions that are cautious about the party’s plan to review its policy of “zero nuclear plants” and move up the date for achieving this goal to 2030. However, there is opposition to this plan even in the party, so discord may emerge during the discussion process.


Renho met with senior officials of the Japanese Electrical, Electronic, & Information Union (JEIU) consisting of labor unions of electrical machinery manufacturers on Feb. 15. She had also met with officials of the Japan Federation of Basic Industry Workers’ Unions (JBU), an umbrella group for unions including the Federation of Iron and Steel Workers’ Unions and the All Japan Shipping and Engineering Union, on Feb. 14. It is reckoned that at these meetings, she explained the party’s plan to present a new policy on nuclear power plants at its annual convention on March 12 and sought the labor unions’ understanding.


She was accompanied by Koichiro Gemba, chairman of the DP’s research committee on energy and the environment, at the meetings. She is also scheduled to meet with the Federation of Electric Power Related Industry Workers’ Unions on Feb. 17.


The DP has so far advocated eliminating nuclear plants by the 2030s. Renho is very keen on reviewing this policy, including moving up the goal, because she wants to have a clear point of contention with the Liberal Democratic Party in the next House of Representatives election. An aide says: “She will be able to make an appeal on nuclear plant policy from the standpoint of a mother.” Renho herself has expressed her strong determination to work on this issue.


However, the labor unions Renho is visiting are groups made up of workers from companies consuming massive amounts of electric power, so they are reluctant about the policy review. Some labor union officials were furious after Renho’s briefing, blurting out: “What is she thinking? Stop this nonsense!” It appears that Renho has not been successful in winning their support.


Rengo (Japan Trade Union Confederation) Chairman Rikio Kozu commented on the DP’s policy review at a news conference in Sapporo City on Feb. 15. He said: “The basic idea is to achieve zero nuclear plants in the 2030s. Wavering on this is absolutely unacceptable,” indicating his concern.


There are also negative views in the party on the nuclear plant policy review. Objections were voiced at an executive meeting of the party’s research committee on Feb. 15. Nuclear plant policy is not included in the party’s draft action program for 2017 to be adopted at the convention on March 12. A senior official of the committee says, “It should be fine to decide on nuclear plant policy based on the result of coordination up to the time of the convention.”


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