Sure enough, on the heel of a big win by the candidate that his party supported in the Tokyo gubernatorial election, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe moves full on again on restarting the nuclear power plants in Japan and crafting the new national energy policy that puts nuclear power back in the center.
Abe takes Masuzoe's win as strong endorsement of his administration's policies, particularly nuclear policies, just as The Economist and other influential foreign papers predicted (here's Wall Street Journal's take, with a not-so-kind photograph of Masuzoe).
It will be not just the restart of the nuclear power plants in Japan. To those of you who briefly had a glimmer of hope that Japan would finally ditch the fast breeder Monju, my condolences. Abe also wants to quickly pass the budget, modify the Constitution and carry out an educational reform.
All because the LDP/Komei backed Masuzoe won in the Tokyo gubernatorial election.
And who were all those people who insisted that the governorship of Tokyo was just another local, provincial matter with little bearing on the national politics? Whoever you are, my condolences, too.
From Mainichi Shinbun, published after the poll closed on February 9, 2014 (part):
Tokyo gubernatorial election result will act as tailwind for Prime Minister's core policies, energy policies to be decided within this month
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe cleared the first hurdle of this year by the win in the Tokyo gubernatorial election by Yoichi Masuzoe, former Minister of Health and Labor who was supported by both LDP and Komen Party. Masuzoe's win is considered as a certain degree of approval of the Abe administration which is in favor of the restart of nuclear power plants, and the new Basic Energy Plan will be approved by a cabinet decision within this month. The Basic Energy Plan serves as guidelines for mid- to long-term national energy policies. Further, Abe will pass the fiscal 2014 budget at the earliest opportunity to appeal his "focus on the economy" as well as modifying the interpretation of the Constitution that will enable Japan to exercise the right to collective defense and carrying out the reform of Board of Education.
One of the Councilors close to the prime minister speaks for Mr. Abe and says "Prime Minister doesn't think highly of Mr. Masuzoe who abandoned Liberal Democratic Party, but decided to see him as "someone who could win the election"." There is no large national election to be held this year, but if [the LDP-backed candidate] had lost in Tokyo, capital of Japan, the tide may have turned against the Abe administration whose approval rating has remained high.
Seeing that the efforts by former prime ministers Morihiro Hosokawa and Junichiro Koizumi to turn the "beyond nuclear" movement as an election issue was not successful, the Abe government is not going to vastly modify the government draft plan of the Basic Energy Plan, which defines nuclear power as "basic power supply". The government had deferred the cabinet decision on the Basic Energy Plan until after the Tokyo gubernatorial election. However, there are significant objections from within both LDP and Komen Party to operating the fast breeder Monju as planned, as part of the fuel cycle policy. Sanae Takaichi, Chairman of LDP's Policy Research Council, said in the Mainichi Shinbun interview in the evening of February 9 that [Monju and the fuel cycle policy] would have to be thoroughly discussed, and would require a cautious approach by the government.
Thorough discussion and cautious approach. Just like when they passed the State Secrecy Protection Law. So ditch that thought that Japan finally ditches Monju.
Remember that Abe wanted to run a young female candidate to win the election. When he and his administration saw the attorney who had been defeated very badly by Mr. Inose in the December 2012 election entering the race again, they decided on Mr. Masuzoe, who they were confident could easily beat him (which he did, even if he was a man).
In the National Diet Budget Committee on the next day (February 10), Prime Minister Abe moved quickly with his coalition partner Komei Party (that also supported Mr. Masuzoe) and effectively resurrected nuclear power as "basic power supply". There is no way that "basic power supply" for the nation will be terminated in the near or even the distant future.
And what are those "beyond nuclear" supporters of the "socialist lawyer" (as The Economist puts him) doing?
Gloating on the "win" over the former prime ministers who wanted to immediately ditch nuclear power.
They are promising their followers the "long" struggle toward a nuclear-free future someday. Masuzoe's win seems to have guaranteed them a life work, paid or otherwise. Congratulations for that.