Thu, Nov 29, 2012 - Page 6 News List

Anti-nuclear parties unite to have shot at Japan elections

AFP, TOKYO

Anti-nuclear parties were coalescing into a new political grouping yesterday, as Japan’s fragmented electoral landscape shifts ahead of next month’s national poll.

At least three recently sprouted parties were readying to fold into Mirai No To (The Future of Japan Party) on a platform of ridding the country of atomic power following the meltdown last year at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant.

The party is being headed by a high-profile regional politician, Shiga Prefecture Governor Yukiko Kada, and its formation comes as opinion polls show the Dec. 16 election is likely to leave no political party with sufficient seats to govern alone.

“We will create a new party, in response to people saying they don’t have any party to choose from at the moment,” Kada told a press conference near Lake Biwa, Japan’s largest, in a region with a number of aging nuclear reactors.

The governing Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) on Tuesday declared its aim of weaning the country off nuclear power by the end of the 2030s.

Its opponent, the Liberal Democratic Party, is leading in the polls and has criticized anti-nuclear policies as “irresponsible” and unrealistic. The business-friendly bloc is broadly supportive of nuclear power, which advocates say is essential if Japan is going to be able to power its industries.

The tsunami-sparked disaster at the Fukushima plant that spewed radiation into the air and sea, has engendered a vocal anti-nuclear movement in a country that is usually quiescent.

Ahead of next month’s election of lower house lawmakers, small, single-issue parties have mushroomed and the establishment of Mirai No To is an attempt to consolidate their fractured support.

Kada told reporters yesterday she wanted to field about 100 candidates and already had more than 70 ready to fight for the 480 available seats.

The party — which was to be officially registered in Tokyo yesterday afternoon — already boasts support from luminaries, including Oscar-winning composer Ryuichi Sakamoto and management guru Kazuo Inamori, who helped rebuild Japan Airlines.

Ichiro Ozawa, Japan’s one-time political kingmaker who stormed out of the DPJ to form his own party earlier this year, was set to dissolve the group and join Kada.

The tiny Green Wind has also agreed to field its three former lower house members under Kada’s umbrella, as had one other small grouping, local reports said.

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