Many Japan voters back PM on nuclear plant closure

Reuters , Monday 16 May 2011

Criticized Japanese PM's decision to shut down operations of nuclear plant gains support,as government remains unpopular due to disaster

Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan bows as he arrives at the upper house parliamentary session in Tokyo May 2, (Reuters).

More than 60 percent of voters back Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan's decision to close a nuclear plant seen at risk from a major quake, but the move failed to translate into much of a ratings bounce for the unpopular premier, surveys showed on Monday.

Kan, under fire for his handling of the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, this month called for Chubu Electric's Hamaoka nuclear plant to halt operations until it can be better defended against the type of massive quake and tsunami that in March triggered the world's worst atomic crisis in 25 years.

Chubu last week reluctantly agreed to this and has shut down operations at the Hamaoka facility in central Japan.

A poll by Mainichi newspaper showed 66 percent of respondents welcomed the prime minister's decision, but voter support for Kan's government rose only to 27 percent from 22 percent in the previous survey in April. A survey by Asahi newspaper showed similar results.

Half of respondents wanted Kan to oversee reconstruction efforts for the March 11 disaster to a certain point, while 25 percent said Kan should quit as soon as possible.

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