The cost of dealing with the Fukushima accident also keeps rising. The cost of ination in the fallout zone is estimated at approximately ?28 trillion. TEPCO cannot cover this cost so the government is providing up to ?9 trillion to finance TEPCO. 46 In reality, the loan is a fiction that conceals the bankruptcy of Japan’s nuclear energy policy.
The government announced targets for the 2030 energy mix in in the midst of all these problems. According to the figures announced, the proportion of the energy mix that will be provided by nuclear power will rise from its current 0% to 20–22%. The renewable energy target is set at about 20% (including 9% for hydroelectricity). If we think about the increasing cost of maintaining nuclear power, however, this plan clearly has no long-term vision. One report quoted installment loan stores in Michigan someone “close to the Cabinet Secretariat” as saying that “these figures can always be altered. We just have to give a show of support for nuclear power. The figures are otherwise meaningless.” 47 In the absence of change in Japan’s nuclear policy, the burden on the Japanese economy and on the public purse will only grow.
As LDP Diet member Kawano Taro has observed, even if TEPCO’s remaining nuclear reactors could be restarted, it would take the company 280 years to repay ?28 trillion
Support for the abolition of nuclear power is now firmly established among the Japanese public. The movement I have discussed in this essay is one manifestation of this. Yet this widely held feeling has not been reflected in recent elections. One reason for this is common to similar movements around the world in 2011 and 2012: the opponents of nuclear power lack formal organizations that are capable of winning elections. A second reason is peculiar to the Japanese situation: voters do not carefully examine the electoral commitments political parties make when they decide how to cast their vote. Japan’s political culture may eventually come to have quite the opposite effect on the nuclear issue. ” 48 The LDP is afraid of losing these people’s votes. That is why it has continued to maintain an ambiguous nuclear policy.
Based on data from the survey conducted during the House of Representatives election cited above, I calculated that 8% of LDP voters favored “scrapping nuclear power immediately” and 63% favored “gradually phasing out nuclear power altogether
Most people who vote for the LDP do not do so because they agree with the party’s electoral promises. In this kind of political culture a ruling party cannot easily adopt policies that fly in the face of public opinion even if it wins an election. As a result, so-called “consensus politics” has long been practiced in Japan. Consensus politics means that even when a party wins an election, it still has to take account of public opinion and obtain the agreement of the opposition parties and various pressure groups in order to pursue its policy agenda. In contemporary Japan, some say this consensus politics is in decline. The current Abe administration’s stance that it has an electoral mandate to ple of this trend. Nevertheless, the disappearance of “consensus politics” may not be a sign of the LDP’s strength, but of its weakness. The decline in the party’s base in the industry and community groups that previously supported it means that the government faces less internal pressure to forge a consensus.
This decline has also led to a decline in the fundraising capacity of individual Diet members and their increasing dependence on party headquarters for financial support and political endorsement. These factors strengthen the relative dominance of the administration over individual Diet members. When the Abe administration was formed after the 2012 House of Representatives election, more than half of LDP members of the House of Representatives had stood in no more than two elections. Two thirds had stood in no more than four. Because of the decline in the LDP’s base, consecutive reelection has become more difficult. Members with a weak support base in their own electorate are afraid of losing the backing of the party and cannot oppose the agenda set by the prime minister’s office. Their lack of an independent base also means they do not have the power to form factions and so there are fewer factional struggles. Only the few Diet members who have a firm support base are able to air their differences with the leadership. As a result, as the party becomes weaker, the power of the prime ministership appears to be getting stronger. 49