Ex-PM Suga Inspects Fukushima Nuclear Plant

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Former Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga speaks to the media at Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan on Monday.

Okuma, Fukushima Pref. (Jiji Press)—Former Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga visited the disaster-crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan on Monday to inspect progress on the release of tritium-containing treated water from the plant into the sea.

The release of the treated water was decided on by the administration of Suga in April 2021.

“We made the decision with the determination that we cannot push back (the release of) the treated water,” Suga told reporters during the visit. “There is no end to efforts to ensure safety,” he said, adding that the water release “should be done with a sense of tension.”

On the day, Suga watched reactor decommissioning work from a deck overlooking a reactor building and was briefed on the water release process by TEPCO officials at a facility for diluting the treated water before releasing it into the sea.

Through the inspection, Suga may have partly intended to demonstrate his presence ahead of three by-elections for the House of Representatives later this month, observers said.

Suga told reporters that it was “very regrettable” that the LDP has managed to endorse a candidate in only one of the three races.

Regarding possible revisions to the political funds control law following a high-profile money scandal involving LDP factions, Suga said that the party should lead work to draw up revisions that are highly transparent and convincing to the people.

According to sources close to Suga, the former prime minister has said that current Prime Minister Fumio Kishida cannot dissolve the Lower House amid falling public support for his cabinet.

The actions of Suga, who is a key figure among non-mainstream members of the LDP, could be closely watched as the results of the by-elections may trigger moves to replace Kishida as president of the LDP, observers said.