In advance of the 10th anniversary of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, Nihon Yoron Chosakai conducted a nationwide mail-in poll to probe views on nuclear power. Asked how they think Japan should handle nuclear power, a total of 76% of respondents said Japan should eliminate nuclear power, with 68% saying Japan should eliminate nuclear power in the future and 8% saying Japan should eliminate it immediately. Some 90% of respondents said that there is a possibility that a serious nuclear power accident will occur again.
The poll revealed the reality that the TEPCO Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident continues to exert a strong impact on public opinion. The Fukushima accident, where three reactors suffered a meltdown, is among the world’s worst nuclear accidents. The total percentage of respondents who said either that Japan should eliminate nuclear power in the future or should eliminate it immediately remained high, in line with past polls. Some 69% of respondents gave one of those answers in the 2014 poll, 62% in the 2016 poll, and 75% in the 2018 poll.
A full 60% of respondents who said Japan should eliminate nuclear power gave as the reason for their view “because there is a chance that nuclear power will lead to a situation similar to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident.” Meanwhile, a total of 22% said either that “nuclear power plants should be phased out, but new plants should be built so that Japan maintains a certain number of them” or that “new nuclear power plants should be built, and the number restored to that prior to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident.” Some 58% of respondents who selected one of those two answers gave as their reason “because electricity demand cannot be met without nuclear power.”
The government is moving forward with the restart of nuclear power plants that have passed the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s screening, but 59% of respondents expressed concern, saying that they “do not think the safety of nuclear power has improved with the Authority’s new regulatory standards.”
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has pledged that Japan will achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Asked what means Japan should use to achieve that goal, 50% said “only renewable energy and new technologies should be used,” while 44% said “nuclear power should be used to make up for any shortfall in reaching the goal.”
The poll was taken of 3,000 men and women aged 18 or over nationwide in January and February 2021. (Abridged)
[Polling methodology: A total of 3,000 men and women aged 18 or over were randomly selected nationwide from 250 locations on a stratified two-stage random-sampling basis to create a cross-section of Japan’s slightly more than 100 million voters. On Jan. 14, 2021, questionnaires were sent out by postal mail, and 2,048 completed questionnaires had been returned as of Feb. 22. Valid responses were received from 1,970 people, excluding questionnaires completed improperly or by persons other than the intended voter. The valid response rate was 65.7%. The makeup of the polling sample was as follows: male, 48.1%; female, 51.9%. Sections of Fukushima Prefecture heavily impacted by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake were excluded from the survey pool.]
[Nihon Yoron Chosakai is a nationwide public opinion polling entity managed by Kyodo News and comprising 38 of its subscribers including the Tokyo Shimbun.]