New polls confirm that a majority of japanese prefer to pay more for their electricity than restart nuclear reactors:
Households See Little Pain in Higher Electricity Rates
Despite the Japanese government’s efforts to win support for an early restart of nuclear power plants, a new survey shows that consumers are largely comfortable with the higher prices they have to pay for electricity generated by fossil fuels.
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said late Wednesday that the nine utilities that own nuclear plants will likely spend ¥7.5 trillion ($76.75 billion) on natural gas, oil and coal in the current fiscal year ending in March. That is estimated to be ¥3.6 trillion more than if all of their nuclear power plants had been in operation. Eight of the nine utilities posted net losses in the last fiscal year due to the higher fuel bills.
While the data points to the higher costs for the nation of not using nuclear power, the ministry also released a survey suggesting that consumers want it that way.
The poll, conducted via the Internet this summer by government-funded think tank EnviroLife Research Institute, had responses from 1,085 living in the Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya areas. Power prices in these areas have risen 19%, 25% and 16% respectively from the levels before the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
According to the poll, 31% of the respondents said they didn’t feel the pain of higher power prices, 41% said they felt the pain “a little” and 29% said they felt the pain “very much.” Roughly half of them have been trying to cut power consumption by measures such as turning off lights, air conditioners and TVs, and raising the temperature settings of refrigerators and air conditioners.
Other surveys show a continued split among people over nuclear power, more than two years after the Fukushima disaster in March 2011. In a poll conducted Oct 5-6 by the Fuji television network, 60% of the 1,000 respondents said they are opposed to restarting nuclear power while 33% said they were in favor of restarts.
The ruling Liberal Democratic Party has won two national elections since late last year with a platform that included the restart of nuclear reactors. But former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, a previous LDP leader who remains highly popular, recently made a fuss by declaring his opposition to nuclear power. His son, Shinjiro Koizumi, now a lawmaker, questioned his own party’s platform, saying on Monday that “voters have remained unconvinced, wondering if it’s all right to let reactors come back on line without further discussions.”
With plants shut down for regular maintenance in the time since March 2011, there are currently no nuclear reactors operating among the 50 commissioned units.