Koizumi says Japan should scrap nuclear plants after Fukushima

New environment minister’s view likely to prove controversial in ruling party despite public concerns over nuclear risk.

Japan''s ongoing nuclear crisis
The damaged Fukushima plant four days after the devastating tsunami in March 2011 that triggered the closure of most of Japan's nuclear power stations. The country's new environment minister has said he wants nuclear plants scrapped. [FILE/TEPCO via AFP]

Japan’s newly appointed environment minister, Shinjiro Koizumi, wants the country to close down nuclear reactors to avoid a repeat of 2011’s Fukushima catastrophe. 

The comments by the son of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, himself an anti-nuclear advocate, are likely to prove controversial in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, which supports a return to nuclear power under new safety rules imposed after Fukushima.

“I would like to study how we will scrap them, not how to retain them,” Shinjiro Koizumi said at his first news conference late on Wednesday after his appointment by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Koizumi’s ministry oversees Japan‘s nuclear regulator.

Three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi station run by Tokyo Electric Power melted down after being hit by a massive earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, releasing radiation that forced 160,000 people to flee, many never to return.

Most of Japan’s nuclear reactors, which before Fukushima supplied about 30 percent of the country’s electricity, are going through a relicensing process under new safety standards imposed after the disaster exposed regulatory and operational failings.

Japan has six reactors operating at the moment, a fraction of the 54 that were in use before Fukushima. About 40 percent of the pre-Fukushima fleet is being decommissioned.

Shinjiro Koizumi’s father, a popular prime minister now retired from parliament, became a harsh critic of atomic energy after the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

Source: Reuters