Photo/Illutration Storage tanks containing processed radioactive water at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in April (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

According to a new survey, winning candidates in the ruling coalition in the Oct. 31 Lower House election differ greatly on the future of nuclear power in Japan. 

Broken down by political parties, 72 percent of ruling Liberal Democratic Party winners supported nuclear power, the highest rate among parties, while just 9 percent of junior coalition partner Komeito victors did so.

The survey, jointly conducted by The Asahi Shimbun and a team led by Masaki Taniguchi, a professor of political science at the University of Tokyo, analyzed the political views of winners in the Lower House election.

For the survey, questionnaires were sent out from Sept. 2, and 448 of 465 election winners responded to them by Oct. 31. The response rate was 96.34 percent.

The survey asked the candidates which view they were leaning toward: “Abolish nuclear power immediately” or “Keep it as a power source for the future.”

Among the winners, those wanting to abolish nuclear power accounted for 19 percent, compared to 24 percent in the previous survey for the 2017 Lower House election.

Winners who favor maintaining nuclear power accounted for 45 percent, compared to 47 percent in the previous survey. Nearly half of the winners believe that nuclear power should remain as a source of power in the future.

Excluding the choice of “neither,” 13 percent of Komeito winners supported the abolition, 4 percentage points higher than those who support nuclear power.

At the time of the 2017 Lower House election, 33 percent of Komeito winners favored retaining nuclear power while no one supported abolishing it. In the new survey, many Komeito candidates drastically changed their stances.

Komeito, in its manifesto for the Lower House election, said, “We aim to achieve a nuclear-free society, not relying on nuclear power for the future.”

The survey also revealed differing stances on nuclear power among all the competing parties.

All the election winners of the Japanese Communist Party, Reiwa Shinsengumi and the Social Democratic Party supported pulling the plug on nuclear power, followed by victorious Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan members at 62 percent.

No winners of the Democratic Party for the People supported its abolition, while 27 percent supported nuclear power.

Thirty-nine percent of winners of Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party) want to retain nuclear power, the second highest rate after that of the LDP victors. The previous survey in 2017 showed just 9 percent favored nuclear power.

The survey also asked candidates about releasing processed radioactive water collected at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant into the sea.

Sixty-two percent of all the winners viewed the water release into the sea as "inevitable." The LDP and Komeito winners, who shared the view, accounted for 80 percent and 59 percent, respectively.

At the same time, 95 percent of Nippon Ishin winners support the release, the highest rate among parties, followed by DPP victors at 73 percent.

Sixty-five percent of CDP winners leaned toward opposing the release, but 10 percent said, “It is inevitable.”