Paul Scalise (a friend) argues frequently, forcefully and plausibly that the continued shutdowns of the country's nuclear power plants imperils the finances and indeed the existence of the nation's power companies (Link - the text, not the video). Business scholar Ulrike Schaede, somewhat less plausibly, argues that Abenomics will fail without reactor restarts. (Link)
As for what the public thinks, the most recent Asahi Shimbun opinion poll, conducted September 7 and 8, finds 26% of the public in favor of reactor restarts, and 56% opposed (Link - J). The monthly NHK poll, conducted September 6, 7 and 8, found 22% in favor, 41% opposed and 34% undecided on the restarts, even under the proviso that the restarts would be of reactors meeting new, stricter Nuclear Regulation Authority safety guidelines. (Link)
Most of the public feels cautious about accepting official statements regarding the safety of operation of the nuclear power stations. There is also seemingly a great deal of skepticism about pronouncements of doom should the reactors continue to be kept offline. That the power grid has not collapsed, and the economy crumpled, after probably the hottest spring and summer on record, puts a dent in the credibility of those arguing for restarts even if public opinion is against them.
A pair of senryu and accompanying cartoons on that subject:
iranu to wakaru
Learning that we do not need
a summer ends
(by "Michi" of Suginami City, published in the Tokyo Shimbun of 7 September 2013)
酷暑にもIn the case of the latter poen, the cartoonist has drawn a dog with a mouth, nose and eyes that together form the corporate logo of the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Link). It is sweating bullets beneath a burning sun. Despite its suffering, however, it does not bark or howl -- a seeming extended reference to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's famous dog that did not bark in the Sherlock Holmes story "Silver Blaze."
Kokusho ni mo
denryoku fusoku no
Despite the blistering heat
of a lack of electric power
no voice is heard
(by Koyano Takeshi of Higashiyamato City, published in the Tokyo Shimbun of 31 August 2013)
An aside, but one of the striking attributes of the humorous verses and cartoons published in the Tokyo Shimbun is how many of them require a knowledge of non-Japanese music or literature, international affairs or English to understand. However, neither the Tokyo Shimbun nor its parent the Chunichi Shimbun do any publishing in English. The upshot is that the products of the Japanese news organizations whose outlook and shared culture would be most recognizable to non-Japanese readers remain locked up behind the wall of the Japanese language.
Image courtesies: Tokyo Shimbun