Yesterday, Prime Minister Noda was on “News Zero” with other candidates for the position of leader of the Democratic Party. The first question to him was about the confusion surrounding the new energy strategy document. The newscaster asked if the nuclear phase out was dropped.
Noda answered that this is a misunderstanding. He made clear that the Cabinet has adopted the energy strategy document and that the political goal to reach a society not dependent on nuclear in the 2030s has been adopted by Cabinet as well.
Starting with Justin McCurry here, as far as I am aware all Western media (Spiegel, New York Times) have misunderstood the situation and reported that Japan reversed the nuclear phase out decision only a couple of days after it was adopted.
I had a different take, and I think Prime Minister Noda’s statement backs my understanding.
He also cleared up that the original strategy paper does not decide phasing out nuclear until 2040, but makes it a long term policy goal to get a society not dependent on nuclear.
That said, he did get some criticism from the other candidates for party leadership that the Cabinet decision was lukewarm and gave rise to this kind of misunderstandings. In the coming elections, the Democratic Party will be the party of phase out, while the Liberal Democrats will be the party of keeping nuclear. It is important to make these positions clear to the voter.
Update September 27: Prime Minister Noda now also said at the United Nations that Japan aims to achieve zero reliance on nuclear by the 2030s.