Eight million people signed an Internet petition demanding an end to nuclear power and hundreds of thousands joined public protests. Yet Japan handed an election landslide to the most pro-atomic option on offer. Anti-nuclear activists have been left licking their wounds after the first national poll since the tsunami-sparked disaster at Fukushima saw an apparent melting away of public anger as the country welcomed back the establishment…
The Liberal Democratic Party bagged 294 of the 480 seats in the lower house, crushing their opponents, the biggest of which won only 57 seats. Where smaller parties offered an end to nuclear power — immediately, over ten years, or within three decades — the LDP pledged only to “decide” on reactor restarts within three years.
Commentators say the pro-business party is likely to give the green light to power companies. Markets agree, with shares in Fukushima operator Tokyo Electric Power (TECPO) surging around 50 percent in two days after the win. The problem, said the left-leaning Asahi Shimbun newspaper, was that other issues trumped nuclear; voters were frustrated with Japan’s economic malaise, huge public debts, fragile employment and diplomatic friction with China. The public were looking for a way to punish the ruling Democratic Party of Japan for its policy failures…In fact, says the Asahi, the anti-nuclear vote was almost completely neutralised because of the fragmentation caused by this mushrooming of parties.
Excerpts from Hiroshi Hiyama, Japan anti-nuclear vote melts away, Agence France Presse, Dec. 23, 2012