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Declining support for nuclear energy in Japan

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
(October 29, 1999) A public opinion poll conducted last August showed that more and more people are concerned about the safety of nuclear power in Japan. Most daily papers only printed these general outcome of the survey but a more precise look at the details shows that the concern goes far beyond the superficial, general concern almost everyone has.

(520.5101) WISE Amsterdam - The Citizens' Nuclear Information Center (CNIC) took the effort to compare this last survey with others from the past, all conducted by the Japanese government. From 1975 to 1990, the Prime Minister's Office carried out a public opinion poll on nuclear power about every two years. However, after 1991 the poll was abruptly stopped, which means that the August 1999 poll was the first one to be held in nine years.

The survey methods in all those years slightly differed every time. The last-but-one, in 1990, started with the following, quite inducing, statement: "Nuclear power generation will become vital since it is expected that the energy demand of our country will rise in the future while the supply of oil may become unstable". In addition to such statements the government started to count those who ticked the "rather agree" box (on the question on the necessity of nuclear power stations) as promoters of nuclear power and concluded quite arbitrarily that more than 60% of the respondents favored nuclear power.

Taking all kinds of inadequacies into consideration, the CNIC simplified the data into four categories to try to determine the percentages of pro-nuclear people, those who would like to maintain the status quo, those who are against nuclear power and those who do not know. The numbers of those who prefer the status quo started to increase in the 80's and in the 90's there was a rapid increase of those who either wanted to reduce the use of nuclear power or were against the usage, an outcome that clearly rejects the governments policy of increasing the role of nuclear power.

As encouraging is the fact that more and more people are informed and are able (or finally feel themselves able) to make their own decisions. In 1975, (when the CNIC was founded) 34% of the people chose "I don't know" on questions on nuclear power. This figure has dropped to 3.4% in 1999!

Guess the Tokai Mura disaster gave the Japanese something more to think about!

Source: Nuke Info Tokyo, September/October 1999
Contact: CNIC, 3F Kotobuki Bldg.,
1-58-15, Higashi-nakano,Nakano-ku, Tokyo, 164-0003, Japan,