Reuters Wrong: Japanese LDP not Pro-Nuclear

Linda Sieg at Reuters just wrote an article titled “Analysis: Despite 2011 disaster, pro-nuclear party could win power in Japan”. Thanks to this tweet by Rod Adams for the link.

Doing a couple of minutes of research I found a November 23 blog post by Taro Kono, a Member of Parliament of the actually not at all “pro-nuclear” LDP, which reports what the LDP has decided on the same day as their platform on energy policy going into the elections scheduled for December 16, and also provides some explanation.

I will provide some translation of the official LDP platform here.




 Insisting on the principle of “safety first” in energy policy

The accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant of TEPCO following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami and the extreme damages from it have shown the threat of radiation not only to Japan, but to the whole world.

Since our party has followed a pro-nuclear policy until now, we apologize for causing this accident, and express our deepest condolences to all those citizens who even now suffer from the catastrophe.

Doesn’t sound very “pro-nuclear” to me. Hang on, maybe the pro-nuclear part will come later. Kono remarks in a comment that this is the first time the LDP has apologized for its past pro-nuclear policy in a political platform paper.

Update: This part is not found on the official LDP website.

Update II: It is found in the long version of the official program.


We will place the principle of “safety first” (including safety against terrorist acts) at the core of our energy policy. Especially in regard to nuclear power policy, we will give priority to the expert decisions of a regulatory agency that is independent in its competences, its personnel decisions, and its budget over any other consideration.

Update: This part is not found on the official LDP website.

Update II: It is found in the long version of the official program.



Short term energy policy

We will thoroughly dig out every possibility of energy, and will make sure of the energy supply needed for keeping up the society and economy, and at the same time aim for a structure of society and economy that is not dependent on nuclear power.

Still waiting for the “pro-nuclear” part. This sounds rather similar to what the current Japanese government decided in September.


Therefore, as the most important task at hand, we will support renewable energy and energy efficiency for three years at the highest possible level.

Sounds good to me, especially the part about supporting renewable.


The decision about restarting nuclear reactors will be done one at a time. We want to decide on all nuclear reactors within three years. In all questions regarding safety, we will follow the expert opinion of the Commission on regulation of nuclear energy.

This part is found on the official website, in contrast to the following passage.


For those nuclear reactors that the regulatory Commission decides to be unsafe, we plan to fill the gap with the following measures for the time being. Thoroughly support the deployment of solar and wind power and other renewables, support energy efficiency thoroughly, build gas power plants which have less environmental impact, support highly efficient coal power plants, lower the costs of buying fossil fuel by negotiations with the exporting countries, improve the grid connections between different utilities, use the existing coal power plants.

Update: This part is not found on the official LDP website.

Update II: It is found in the long version of the official program.



Develop an energy strategy that is responsible now and for the future

In the middle and long term energy policy, we will work toward a energy strategy that is responsible to the future life of the citizens. While we will avoid delaying decisions, we will establish at the latest in ten years a best energy mix that is sustainable in the future. When taking these decisions, we will distinguish if new technology deemed safe by the regulatory commission can be adopted or not.

There is more in the policy platform document, it follows up with a section on prices of electricity. But as far as I can see the position of the LDP on nuclear is quite close to that of the current Japanese government. The LDP as well wants to get to a society not dependent on nuclear energy.

That’s a large shift from previous LDP policy, so it may take some time until Western media gets this right. Having the LDP actually apologize for causing the Fukushima accident should be big news.

Update: I took Kono’s word for it that this is official LDP policy. That may have been premature. Checking at the LDP website, I can find only part of the above text in the official party platform for the next election. I regret the error of having trusted Kono on this issue without checking. I have added updates to the above translation indicating which parts are actually not in the program published on the LDP website.

There may be an explanation for this not involving Kono spreading false information. The platform may have been changed after his blog post, or only part of it may have found its way into the official pamphlet now on the LDP website.

Update II: There is an explanation to this, which I found out after phoning the LDP head office about the issue. It is simply that the official program is rather long and the pamphlet version of the program abridged what has been decided, which was exactly what Kono reported. The unabridged long version is found here, and it contains all of the text passages I translated above on page 55.

Published by kflenz

Professor at Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo. Author of Lenz Blog (since 2003,

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