After a half century of unwavering support, Japan should become nuclear free, says prime minister

July 29, 2011

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(AP/David Guttenfelder)
Mourners lay flowers during a memorial ceremony for earthquake victims near the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant.

Earlier this month, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan called for a society that doesn’t rely on nuclear power. His announcement stunned some of the political establishment, but it seems in line with Japanese public opinion. A recent poll revealed that 70% supported Kan's nuclear strategy. But the prime minister faces serious political hurdles: about 66% of Japanese voters would like to see him resign at the end of the Diet session in August.

Daniel Aldrich is an associate professor of political science at Purdue University and a visiting fellow at the East-West Center in Honolulu. He just returned from a trip to Japan. We talk to him about Kan’s plans to curb nuclear power and ask whether a nuclear-free Japan is even possible.