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55% opposed to restarting nuclear power plants, Mainichi Shimbun poll

The Mainichi Shimbun nationwide survey conducted on March 11–12 probed respondents’ views on reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake. Some 55% said that they are “opposed” to restarting nuclear power plants, greatly outdistancing the 26% who said they are “in favor.”

 

The Abe cabinet is moving forward with the resumption of operations at nuclear power plants. Three reactors, including the No. 1 and 2 reactors at Kyushu Electric Power’s Sendai plant (Kagoshima Prefecture), have already recommenced operations. The No. 3 and 4 reactors at Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Takahama plant (Fukui Prefecture) were restarted, but then operations were suspended after the Otsu District Court issued an injunction. In the Mainichi Shimbun poll conducted in March 2016, 53% of respondents were opposed to restarting nuclear reactors and 30% were in favor. The new poll shows that the gap between the two camps has widened slightly.

 

Even among cabinet supporters, those opposed to restarting the plants outnumbered those in favor.

 

[The government is having “reconstruction bases” set up in each municipality within the difficult-to-return zone in Fukushima Prefecture from fiscal 2017, with the aim of prioritizing decontamination work and infrastructure restoration there.] To develop these “reconstruction bases,” the government will perform the decontamination work using tax money from next fiscal year. A full 47% of respondents said “caution should be exercised in using tax money” while 34% said “tax money should actively be used to promote decontamination.” It is thought that the public favors a cautious approach because the costs of the decontamination work have to date been covered in principle by TEPCO and because it is not clear that developing the areas will encourage residents to return.

 

A total of 72% of pollees said they feel that the public’s interest in the areas hit by the disaster has waned now that six years have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake, with 24% saying they “often” feel that way and 48% indicating they “sometimes” do. This is not a major change from the total of 79% found in the survey taken last March. Asked if they make an effort to conserve energy, 17% said they “make a great effort” while 49% said they “make some effort.” In the July 2012 poll, over 80% of respondents said either “make a great effort” or “make some effort.”

 

[Polling methodology: The survey was conducted by pollsters during the two-day period of March 11–12 over the telephone across the nation on a computer-aided random digit sampling (RDS) basis. The survey excluded telephone numbers in municipalities designated as “difficult-to-return” zones due to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident. A total of 1,597 households with one or more persons age 18 or over were sampled. Responses were obtained from 1,012 persons (63%).]

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