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Japan’s ex-PMs team up for anti-nuclear drive

Two former Japanese prime ministers -- Morihiro Hosokawa and Junichiro Koizumi -- have teamed up to increase the pressure on incumbent Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to stop the resumption of nuclear power in the country.

TOKYO: Two former Japanese prime ministers -- Morihiro Hosokawa and Junichiro Koizumi -- have teamed up to increase the pressure on incumbent Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to stop the resumption of nuclear power in the country.

A new organisation, called the “Japan Assembly for Nuclear Free Renewable Energy”, has been launched with the main objective of calling for a nuclear free Japan, and promoting the development and use of renewable energy -- and it has been getting a lot of media attention.

Thirty per cent of Japan's energy source comes from nuclear power.

But since the meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in 2011, reactors have gone off-line nationwide.

More than 350 people turned up to celebrate the launch of the new group.

"It's wonderful that the former prime ministers have stood up. I didn't want to miss the opportunity to take part in this gathering,” said a man who attended the launch.

Heading the group is Mr Hosokawa, who recently ran for Tokyo governor on an anti-nuclear platform.

He was backed by another former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, who also plays an important role in the organisation.

"First, we are against the restart of Japan's nuclear reactors. We want to transfer nuclear power to natural energy, build an economy that can capitalise on it and build a society where we do not have to worry about radiation,” he said.

Mr Koizumi said: "All nuclear plants have stopped, not only for 3 months, or 6 months, but for almost a year. Has Japan been unable to survive without nuclear power? We have prevailed.

“People may say I am a person of the past. But I will, with the generation of the future, work towards creating a country without nuclear power."

Joining them in the anti-nuclear drive is a long list of celebrities, including actors, authors, people from the music industry and local authorities.

Many feel it is important to remember the Fukushima nuclear crisis and the impact it had on many lives then, and today.

Rika Kayama, a practicing psychiatrist, said: "There were many who were psychologically hurt by the nuclear accident. Even in Tokyo, many suffered and it was the first time I experienced such a wave of patients."

However, it is unlikely that Mr Abe's stance on nuclear energy will change.

He has reiterated during his recent London trip that he has decided to restart Japan's nuclear power plants following safety checks.

Still, the group said it plans to hold regular meetings and forums, to generate momentum and pressure the government to stop the generation of nuclear energy in Japan.  

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