More than 20 months after a catastrophic nuclear disaster, massive protests against atomic energy and public opinion polls backing the phase-out of reactors, a pro-nuclear party won Japan’s parliamentary election.
The result left anti-nuclear proponents in shock Monday, struggling to understand how the Liberal Democratic Party won in a landslide.
The LDP grabbed 294 of the 480 seats in the lower house, while the ruling Democratic Party dwindled to a fraction of its pre-ballot presence, at 57 seats, down from 230.
The Tomorrow Party, which ran on a strong anti-nuclear platform, fizzled out, ending up with just nine seats.
The sharp rejection of the ruling party and comeback by the better organised Liberal Democratic Party, which had ruled almost non-stop for the last half century, stunned many who expected a change after the meltdowns and explosions at Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant that followed the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami.
Some voters put recovery efforts — both for the disaster-hit area and for the economy — as the top priority. Mihoko Terada, a 40-year-old mother of two in the disaster-struck area of Sendai, cast her ballot for the LDP, partly because she was fed up with the Democrats’ bumbling along on recovery efforts, but mainly because it looked like the lesser of evils — and the more professional politicians.