The votes are in
Posted by ampontan on Monday, July 9, 2012
THE first major election has been held in Japan since the resumption of operations at the Oi nuclear power plant in Fukui and the fallout in the form of anti-nuclear power demonstrations.
The news media just loves demonstrations (unless they’re run by the Tea Party), but they won’t like the results of this election.
Mukohara Yoshitaka, the operator of small publishing company, challenged two-term incumbent Ito Yuichiro for the office of Kagoshima governor. Mr. Mukohara tried to make it a single-issue referendum:
Mukohara, who serves as director-general of a local antinuclear body, opposed the restart of the Sendai plant and portrayed the election as a prefectural referendum on nuclear power.
The incumbent Mr. Ito tried to downplay the issue, but said he favored restarting the Sendai plant. He added, in a classic kick of the can down the road, that nuclear power should be abandoned at some time in the future.
The election coverage by the national newspapers, both in Japanese and English, is most enlightening. They merely stated that Mr. Ito had won, and:
Voter turnout was 43.85 percent, compared with 38.99 percent in the previous election.
So, with voter interest higher than usual in an election the challenger wanted to make a referendum on an emotional issue, what was the margin of victory?
I had to visit a local Kagoshima newspaper site to find the numbers. They were:
That’s more slightly more than 66% for the man who favored restarting the nuclear power plant.
The “commentary” is also most enlightening. The Asahi, which is anti-nuclear power, said:
But as Mukohara announced his candidacy just one month before the official start of campaigning, he struggled to gain voter recognition in many areas other than the prefectural capital of Kagoshima.
Guess they don’t have newspapers, TV, or the wireless out in the Kagoshima sticks yet, huh?
While looking for an English-language article to cite, I ran across someone else who explained it away by writing that the less-populated areas of the prefecture were “majorly dependent” (sic) on the employment provided by the nuclear power plant.
So, one source has the people outside the big city unfamiliar with the candidate, and another has the people outside the big city very familiar with the issue as something that affects their livelihood.
Putting aside the excuses and the flood of pixels sure to come in subsequent elections and demonstrations, what happened with the issue of nuclear power in Fukui and now Kagoshima provides an indication of what will likely continue to happen in the rest of the country.