Japan Elects New Lower House of Parliament More Supportive of Nuclear Power

Parliamentary support for anti-nuclear-power policies has eroded in Japan following last weekend's election.

While the new government's nuclear policies are not yet defined, the Liberal Democratic Party that took control of the lower house in a vote Sunday has been supportive of the industry in the past. It won 293 of 480 seats, NHK reported. The party's coalition with the New Komeito party will form a two-thirds majority of 320 seats that will give the lower house more power to pass legislation.

Nuclear energy is deeply unpopular in Japan following the Fukushima Daiichi accidents last year. Nonetheless, Japan Today reported that the economy, threats from abroad and dissatisfaction with the ruling Democratic Party of Japan held more sway among voters than nuclear power. Likewise, a party that formed recently with the explicit goal of abandoning nuclear power won only eight seats.

The Liberal Democratic Party is seen as more conservative and more pro-business than its counterparts. It is expected to select 2006-2007 Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as the country's new prime minister. He and the new government will face a number of crucial policy decisions related to nuclear power in 2013. Japan's new nuclear regulatory body will complete its revamped regulations next year. Only two of the country's reactors are online, and government approval will be required to restart others in the face of power shortages. And at some point the country will finalize its long-term energy policy and nuclear power's fate within it.

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