Poll: Japanese opposition to nuclear power stronger

TOKYO — Japanese oppose nuclear power more strongly than they did while the tsunami-damaged Fukushima plant was still in crisis a year ago, according to a poll that found widespread dismay with the government’s handling of that disaster and the ongoing recovery.

The survey released Tuesday by the Washington-based Pew Research Center said 70% of Japanese believe the country should reduce its reliance on nuclear energy, up from 44% last year.

Before the disaster, Japan relied on nuclear power for about a third of its energy needs. All 50 of Japan’s usable nuclear reactors have been shut down as of last month due to routine inspections and safety concerns, straining the country’s ability to meet power demands.

The survey found that 80% of Japanese are dissatisfied with the government’s handling of the nuclear crisis and only 12% see the central government as having a positive influence on the country. The media, meanwhile, is seen as having a positive impact by 34%, a negative by 63%.

The Japanese military, or Self-Defense Force, was the only major institution in the poll viewed positively—by 89% of respondents.

Overall, the poll showed widespread pessimism: Some 78% of the people are unhappy with the direction of the country, and 93% perceive the economy to be in a bad state.

That contrasts with hopes last year as 59% believed the disasters would make Japan stronger. Now 39% hold that view, and 47% believe it has made the country weaker.

Health concerns about radiation exposure have eased only slightly, with 52% of people saying they are worried that they or someone in their family may have been exposed to radiation, while 47% are unconcerned. In April 2011, 59% were worried about radiation exposure.

The poll, based on 700 telephone interviews between March 20 and April 12, has a margin of error of 4.1%. It is part of the Pew Research Center’s annual Global Attitude Project, which this year conducted polls in 21 countries.


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