Poll finds record support for Japanese reactor restarts

21 February 2023

For the first time since the March 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, the majority of respondents in an annual survey conducted by the Asahi Shimbun are in favour of Japan's nuclear power reactors being restarted. Rising energy costs following Russia's invasion of Ukraine in 2022 was a factor that influenced their opinion.

Tokyo Electric Power Company is awaiting regulatory approval to restart units 6 and 7 at its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant (Image: Tepco)

The Asahi Shimbun conducted a national telephone survey of 1181 randomly-selected people on 18-19 February.

The results showed that 51% of respondents said they were in favour of resuming operations while 42% said they wanted them to remain offline.

In each of the polls conducted since 2013, about 30% of respondents said they supported the restart of reactors while 50-60% remained opposed. However, opinions started to shift in 2022, when 38% said they were in favour while 47% were opposed.

(Image: Asahi Shimbun)

The survey asked respondents if rising energy costs following the Russian invasion of Ukraine had become a burden in their daily lives. The results showed that 81% said they felt a greater burden, while only 18% said they did not.

Earlier this month, Japan's Cabinet approved a policy that will maximise the use of existing reactors by restarting as many of them as possible and prolonging the operating life of aging ones beyond the current 60-year limit. Under the new policy, Japan will also develop and construct "next-generation innovative reactors" to replace about 20 reactors that are set to be decommissioned.

However, the Asahi Shimbun poll showed that 45% of respondents are in favour of new reactors being built while 46% are opposed.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News