Referendums On Nuclear Power In Japan

The debate about nuclear power in Japan just got even more interesting. In Osaka, a group has collected enough signatures to submit a petition to the city government for a vote on the issue. Now, the focus is on Tokyo.

I went to a large meeting at Waseda University on Friday with about 300-400 people who were eager to bring this issue to the attention of everyone in the nation's capital. One of the panelists even suggested that the vote should be about constructing the next nuclear reactor for Tokyo, in the middle of Tokyo. Others noted that it is unfair to ask Fukushima or Niigata to continue to provide electricity to Tokyo, after what happened on March 11, 2011.

(Top photo from as the campaign celebrates that enough signatures have been collected in Osaka)

The campaign is led by journalist Imai Hajime and supported by people like actor Yamamoto Taro, who participated in the event in Waseda. My friend Lena Lindahl was invited to discuss the experience from Sweden's nuclear referendum in 1980, when the vote was split in three choices, with confusing language, after the Three Mile Island accident in the United States.

Lena and Imai Hajime were keen to ask Japan to learn from the Swedish experience, and have a clear choice of "yes" or "no" as a referendum on this issue should be about nuclear power in general. "Don't do what they did in Sweden, don't divide the vote into three choices!" said Imai Hajime.

Survival Japan Tokyo And Osaka Anti-Nuclear Rallies – Media Coverage:

The campaign to gather signatures started on December 10, 2011 in Tokyo and Osaka, with a January 9, 2012 deadline imposed in Osaka. The number of signatures collected in Osaka reached 50,000, more than the 2 percent of voters (42,673 signatures) required to press for a referendum, as of January 9.

The Waseda University event was impressive. It was also chaotic and fun, as people in the audience shouted suggestions and asked for more details. "No need for music!" someone demanded, wanting to hear more about how to get enough signatures. "Had enough of your opinions!" someone else offered, and Imai Hajime laughed it off.

The group is still well short of the support it needs to press for a vote in Tokyo. With just one month left before the deadline for submitting signatures on Feb. 9, only 78,240 signatures had been collected as of Jan. 8. That was less than one-third of the 214,236 required to petition the governor of Tokyo to adopt referendum ordinances, the group said at a Jan. 9 meeting in Tokyo.

The Asahi: Group says it has enough backing to press for Osaka nuclear vote

If you want to get involved, check out these Japanese websites:
Kokumin Tohyo (People's Referendum)
Sustena Life blog
Referendum Project (Japanese and English)


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