21 Novembre 2016
November 21, 2016
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
KASHIWAZAKI, Niigata Prefecture--An independent candidate who has called for a conditional restart of one of the world’ largest nuclear plants was elected mayor of this coastal city in northwestern Japan on Nov. 20.
Masahiro Sakurai, 54, gained 30,220 votes, compared with 16,459 for Eiko Takeuchi, 47, who opposed a resumption of operations at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant.
Sakurai’s victory could lead to a showdown with Niigata Governor Ryuichi Yoneyama over the nuclear power plant operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co. Yoneyama, who won the governor’s election in October, has taken a tough stance against restarting the nuclear plant.
The plant’s site covers part of Kashiwazaki and the neighboring village of Kariwa. All seven of the plant’s reactors have remained idle over the past few years.
“I will gradually but surely reduce the number of reactors in the nuclear power plant,” Sakurai told reporters after the election. “But I recognize the value of resuming operations.”
Takeuchi, who was backed by the Japanese Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party, was against restarting reactors there.
Voter turnout for the mayoral election was 64.06 percent, a slight decrease from 64.93 percent in the previous election.
TEPCO, operator of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, is eager to restart reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant.
During the election campaign, Sakurai said he would “approve a restart of the halted nuclear plant if safety is confirmed and certain conditions are fulfilled.”
One condition is the construction of a road that residents can use for evacuation in case of an emergency at the nuclear plant. Sakurai also promised to start decommissioning older reactors at the plant.