Opposition politicians used a House of Representatives Budget Committee meeting to point out that Kan had been successful selling Japanese nuclear power generation overseas and was now trying to end its use domestically, and attacked him for being “duplicitous” for pursuing sales outside of the country.
Kan could count on little support from fellow members of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), who sought to distance themselves from the prime minister’s anti-nuclear statements.
Kan, meanwhile, emphasized his anti-nuclear stance was a personal viewpoint and not official DPJ policy, and responded to the criticism only by urging that all aspects of the country’s energy policy be debated.
Koichi Yamauchi, a member of the minor opposition Your Party, blasted Kan.
“It’s duplicitous to be saying domestically ‘Let’s get away from nuclear power’ while at the same time you’re trying to sell it overseas,” Yamauchi said.
Opposition Liberal Democratic Party member Ken Saito pursued the same line, asking Kan whether he would continue trying to export nuclear technology to Vietnam, top priority for exports of Japanese nuclear technology and equipment, while trying to end nuclear power generation inside Japan.
“It’s moving ahead as a diplomatic procedure. I want to discuss how it happens,” Kan replied, later adding that he wants debate over every aspect of Japan’s energy policy.
Kan received little support from DPJ members. Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry Banri Kaieda was sarcastic when asked about the prime minister’s opposition to nuclear power.
“He says it was a personal statement, so whether or not I share his feelings is a matter lighter than goose down,” the Cabinet minister said.
But Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano supported continuation of nuclear technology exports.
“If other countries would like us to move ahead as always, we would like to respond that way,” he said.
Japan launched a nuclear export consortium in October last year, months before the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that ravaged the Tohoku Region and triggered meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, which has thrown the country’s nuclear energy policies into disarray.
Kan said during a July 14 speech that Japan must end its dependence on nuclear power and devise new forms of electricity generation.