The purpose of the survey is to accumulate data points nationwide over time and to accurately grasp changes in public opinion and awareness on nuclear power. When asked in this survey how Japan should approach nuclear power going forward, 42.3% of respondents said that it should be used for a while, but also gradually reduced, down from 44.0% in the previous survey.

At the same time, when combined, the ratio of people choosing the responses of “nuclear power should be increased” and “the level of nuclear power prior to the massive earthquake should be maintained”―i.e., “increase” plus “maintain”―tallied 19.1%, with 29.5% answering “don’t know.” Both percentages marked their highest in ten years. In other words, support and ambivalence are inching up, while opposition is eroding.

Recently, indeed, the percentage of people selecting “don’t know” as their answer about what to do with nuclear power has tended to increase. Broken down by age, 41.5% of those responding in that way were 24 years old or younger (31.5% previously), a larger proportion than in any other age group. That illustrates the importance of providing information to help the younger generation, in particular, to understand energy issues. The combined ratio of respondents selecting “increase” or “maintain” scored highest (23.0%) in the 25-44 age group. In contrast, the response of “gradually discontinue” was the most popular answer (52.7%) chosen by those 65 years old and older. The survey shows distinct differences in awareness according to age.

In response to a question on restarting nuclear power plants (NPPs), the most frequently chosen response (multiple answers allowed) was “no understanding of the people has been obtained” (46.9%), basically unchanged. On the other hand, from the viewpoints of a stable power supply, global warming countermeasures and effects on the economy, positive answers, though formerly tied with negative ones, have been gradually increasing.

Asked which issues they most associate with nuclear power, nuclear energy, and radiation (multiple answers), the respondents most frequently chose global warming (52.8%), followed by electricity rates (45.0%) and nuclear safety (38.3%). In contrast, the percentages of respondents selecting high-level radioactive waste (HLW) disposal (19.4%) and the decommissioning of nuclear reactors (18.5%) were conspicuously down from the previous survey, falling by 10.6 points and 8.3 points, respectively. That shows that concerns are declining about decommissioning and backend measures.

In terms of respondents’ image of nuclear energy, the percentages selecting “dangerous” and “uneasy” both declined to their lowest levels. However, negative images still predominate overall. Looking at the latest results together with those from the past, JAERO has concluded that changes are a function of “the volume of information provided as news” regarding the accident at Fukushima Daiichi and movements toward restarting NPPs.

The survey also asked respondents where they got their information on nuclear power and energy. Although most groups named TV news, the percentage (multiple answers) of those selecting newspapers among those 24 years old or younger was just 15.7% (24.8% in the previous survey) and 67.4% (74.0%) among those 65 years old and older. That clearly shows that young people are increasingly shifting away from reading publications as an information source.