The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) is actively working to construct more nuclear power plants or replace existing ones. The move was triggered by the results of the general election held in October last year. Based on the results, METI, which is in charge of nuclear power generation policy, is gearing up, with one of its officials saying: “The popular will apparently not support the anti-nuclear power generation campaign, and now is the best time to put atomic power generation back on track by taking advantage of the momentum as the Abe administration is rock solid.”
Before the last general election, METI had already begun deliberating on how to put nuclear power generation policy back on track, but the Prime Minister’s Office, which then was busy responding to the scandals involving the Moritomo Gakuen private school and the Kake Educational Institution, warned the ministry not to cause any more trouble. However, the ministry remained eager to move forward with the nuclear power policy and established an expert panel called “Roundtable for Studying Energy Situations,” attempting to have a third party appeal to the public on the importance of nuclear power generation. In this way, the ministry behind the scenes tried to maintain the feasibility of constructing new nuclear power plants by avoiding directly referring to its intention.
With the LDP’s sweeping victory in the last general election, the ministry no longer has to shy away from installing more nuclear power plants. As Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, though hesitantly, shows his understanding for the construction of new nuclear power plants, METI is now reportedly asking relevant ministries and agencies for cooperation, saying, “The Kantei has approved the construction of new nuclear power plants.” By somehow managing to dodge criticism from the public, the ministry intends to start in spring to remove a ban on discussions on constructing new nuclear power plants.