I was recently told by a right-wing Japanese person that in Japan, right-wingers are more likely to support nuclear energy than left-wingers.

It's previously appeared to me that in the USA and Australia, support for nuclear energy is stronger in right-wingers than in left-wingers.

However, I don't know if this correlation is true elsewhere in the world, and if so, what is behind the correlation.

Is support for nuclear energy correlated with views on nuclear weapons? (Related question: Is it common for anti-war groups to oppose nuclear power? ) If so, why did Germany have nuclear power?

Is support for nuclear energy correlated to antipathy against environmentalism? Conversely, are there any countries where people who see themselves as supporters of environmentalism are more likely to support nuclear energy than fossil fuels?

Is support for nuclear energy correlated with support of "unnatural" technology, such as vaccination or genetically modified food?

  • I wonder if it is to do climate change denial. A lot of conservatives seem to object to alternatives to nuclear on the grounds that they are proposed as a solution for a problem they think isn't real.
    – user
    Oct 25, 2018 at 16:29

2 Answers 2


The nuclear energy question is complicated by other considerations. The only nuclear power plant being built in the US (Vogtle in Georgia) is costing $7 per watt, and eventually perhaps more. Wind turbines cost around $2 per watt, solar including installation around $2 per watt, some combined cycle natural gas plants around $1 per watt. Fiscal conservatives aren't much into an energy source that costs more than any of the other options.

Nationalists tend to view nuclear as a source of 'independence'. Therefore, regardless of cost, nuclear is worthwhile if it avoids energy imports from 'enemies', 'competitors', 'fair weather friends', etc. Countries that have long supply lines (oil and gas for Japan make a good example) would rather have some energy sources that aren't subject to hijacking and exposure to international conflicts.

Iran, with huge amounts of oil, seems to 'need' nuclear plants for energy, and just incidentally spends a lot of money building missiles and supporting political movements that are hostile to Western interests. Brazil has been developing civilian nuclear plants for some time, follows international inspection protocols, and has shown no overt interest in weapons. At the time Brazil began investing in nuclear, they were unaware of their petroleum resources, so this looked like economically rational investment. Iran's general posture is provocative, Brazil in comparison tends to minimize conflict and work with it's neighbors to reach consensus.

At one time nuclear was a sign of national prestige. Few people view it that way any more, most would rather not have nukes in their backyard. Germany as well as most of the rest of Europe was on the edge of the fallout from Chernobyl, this soured interest in something that was already unpopular. Many right wingers would rather not have any nukes anywhere - whether for power or weapons. This view could originate from nuclear blackmail or terrorism in it's various guises.

Therefore the people that tend to support nuclear are making a living at it - either as engineering firms, researchers, defense contractors, or mines. This is not a lot of people. Therefore the constituencies favoring nuclear are thinning out over time.

  • 3
    What about environmental considerations? Some people in the U.S. support nuclear because they consider it more environmentally friendly than fossil fuels. (Of course, plenty of people believe the opposite...)
    – Taymon
    Jul 25, 2013 at 18:52
  • 1
    English is not my first language, so I may be missing something: is the phrase “would rather not have any nukes anywhere - whether for power or weapons” meaningful? I assumed – and dictionaries appear to confirm – that “nuke” means “nuclear weapon”.
    – DaG
    Jul 13, 2016 at 21:02
  • 1
    I suspect that $ / Watt is a bit of a mis-simplification... how many years will the plant last? What are the annual ongoing costs? Are all of the watts available 24/7? Oct 25, 2018 at 18:14
  • The industry has provided a better metric: Levelized Cost Of Energy, which is measured in dollars per Watt-hour (or Megawatt-hour) rather than dollars per Watt. Dollars per Watt is how big of an engine you can buy, not how far you can drive. Oct 25, 2018 at 18:20

There is correlation between opposition to nuclear power and ideology

Left-wing parties in general are opposed to nuclear power.

Nuclear power has several very distinct attributes:

Left-wing ideologies — especially greens, and reds that adhere to historical materialism — frown heavily upon on this. In the ideal green/left-wing red world, you are entirely self-sufficient and control your own means of production for utility and sustenance. Nuclear power — in its present form — flies in the face of this. Nuclear power requires extremely large and long-term investments. This requires large investors, not only utility companies but often conglomerates or industry groups, or backing on a national level. And once the plant is built, you as the consumer have no say about its operation. All you can do is use the power and pay your bill.

If you do not mind being the client of a power company, if you trust them to do their thing and not mess with the people dependent on their services... then nuclear power is quite all right. But if you are of the ideological persuasion that you should be in control over the production-means that sustain you, then nuclear power is not a good thing.

In short: if you are opposed to Big Corporate, you are generally also opposed to nuclear power, because nuclear power is Big Corporate personified

Finally, you ask...

Is support for nuclear energy correlated with support of "unnatural" technology, such as vaccination or genetically modified food?

Sort of...

Again it is a matter of your position towards big corporations. As I stated above, greens and left-wing reds are no fan of big corporations, because big corporations make you as the average citizen dependent on them and their whims.. and the greens/left-wings do not like that at all.

Now let us look at what you asked about:

  • Vaccination. this concerns your health and physical well-being
  • Genetic modification: concerns your food

Let us exemplify this by bringing out the most infamous of the bunch in the latter debate: Monsanto. Pragmatically speaking, Monsanto's GM products are safe and beneficial. Face it, they have been around for decades and if there had been any issues with them, we would have known by now. The upsides of their products blow the claimed (and unproven) downsides completely out of the water.

But Monsanto are right douches to work with. Because they require control over what you do with their products, even after you buy them! This is a pain in the rear end to be frank, and this is a genuine grievance against them.

But with Monsanto, and vaccinations, and nuclear power, you cannot get public support for your position and your struggle against big corporations with ideological arguments. You cannot say "Well their product is just fine... it is safe and efficient and fulfils my needs... but my ideology says I must hate them for being control-freaks about it". The reply to that is "Yeah yeah, whatever... you commie".

...and that is when the doomsday arguments are brought forth, because only with those arguments do you stand any chance to appeal to people that are not ideologically bothered by big corporations.

  • "In the ideal green/left-wing red world, you are entirely self-sufficient and control your own means of production for utility and sustenance." Whaaaaaat? This is the opposite of the conventional left-right divide in Europe and the United States. The left-wing wants more government spending, and generally opposes privatization of utilities and other essential services. The notion of total self-sufficiency is associated primarily with right-wing survivalist groups, and the notion of general self-sufficiency is still pretty right wing.
    – Obie 2.0
    Jan 31, 2019 at 3:04
  • The exception would be eco-communes, but even they focus on cooperation and only emphasize independence from what they (typically) view as an exploitative capitalist society. And they're not very mainstream at all.
    – Obie 2.0
    Jan 31, 2019 at 3:06
  • @Obie2.0 I think you need to read up more on these ideologies instead of just gobbling up what those vehemently opposed to those ideologies are saying about them. Mind you, I am no adherent to any ideology, but what you are saying is just one big straw-man.
    – MichaelK
    Jan 31, 2019 at 7:14
  • So to be clear, you think I get my information about left-leaning people from the right, and vice versa? That would be quite a feat. I'm not sure where you're getting your information from...but believing that left-wing people oppose public utilities suggests a very different framework. Are you talking about Japan in particular rather than Europe and the US?
    – Obie 2.0
    Jan 31, 2019 at 7:24
  • @Obie2.0 I think that when you say that left-wing people want Big Government you are talking out of your rear end, yes... and the only place you can get that claim from is from the right.
    – MichaelK
    Jan 31, 2019 at 7:29

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