Tokyo elects pro-nuclear governor

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Quite what the election of Yoichi Masuzoe as governor of Tokyo means for the solar industry in Japan is the subject of much debate in the wake of the election result.

Although much has been made of the fact Masuzoe was the only leading candidate to campaign on a pro-nuclear ticket, a report on the BBC News website today states political commentators believe plans for the economy and social welfare were the crucial issues.

The governor of Tokyo is widely regarded as the second most important politician in Japan, given the capital city’s 2014 budget of around JPY13 trillion (US$127 billion) and a population of 13 million. The governor of the mega city has more freedom over spending because Tokyo’s revenues are free from the government subsidies awarded other Japanese cities.

According to the BBC report, which cited figures from the AP news agency, Masuzoe, with 2.1 million votes, polled more than both his nearest – anti-nuclear – rivals Kenji Utsunomiya and Morihiro Hosokawa.

Masuzoe was backed by prime minister Shinzo Abe‘s right-of-center Liberal Democrat party and his call to turn the reactors back on chimed with the PM’s.

While there are fears a return to nuclear in Japan could see a dilution of the world’s most generous FIT regime, the huge margin of victory for the new governor could equally be seen as an endorsement of the ‘Abenomics’ package of public spending measures – including renewables subsidies – which Abe introduced to kick-start the Japanese economy.