Jorge Marcano | The Lithuania Tribune
In exclusive comments to the Lithuania Tribune, the Japanese Ambassador to Lithuania, Her Excellency, Mrs. Kazuko Shiraishi, said that “I recognized that turnout at the referendum is high for it to be valid and there are more opponents than supporters. But I understand that the decision will be made by the new government and parliament, because this referendum is not legally binding but has an advisory nature. We will be following the situation very closely,” stated Ambassador Shiraishi.
As an expectant witness of the outcome of the referendum, Dalia Straupaite, the Mayor of Visaginas showed herself concerned with the referendum results and is worried that Japanese corporation, Hitachi may pull out of the project altogether bringing further economic hardships to her town. Reflecting such concerns, Visaginas’ Mayor stated that “people’s opinion matters a lot to them (Hitachi). Now that people in Lithuania have said that they oppose the construction of the plant, Hitachi may consider very seriously if it’s worthwhile. They may consider withdrawing,” Ms. Straupaite said to BNS.
The mayor is also disappointed with the big difference between those supporting the project and those rejecting it, since she hoped that the results would be even, 50-50, between supporters and opponents of the nuclear project. According to the Central Electoral Commission, around 34.07% of voters showed themselves in favour of the new nuclear power plants, whilst almost 62.63% voiced their disapproval of the construction.
She also considered that the referendum had been organised in a rushed and improvising manner, especially when there were several failed attempts to collect 300,000 signatures in order to hold a referendum on building a new nuclear power plant. Furthermore, the mayor is worried about the bad international image that the results would bring to the country, “the referendum is consultative and, therefore, it is nonsense because it is throwing a bad image onto Lithuania,” expressed the town’s political leader.
Mayor Straupaite further explained that the referendum’s results should be taken with a grain of salt, given the circumstances in which it was prepared and carried out, “people did not have full information about the project. They did not read the business plan. Information was not easily accessible. They did not demand a referendum, because they did not know which way to choose, but the Seimas announced the referendum. That is why the result is what it is. They had to measure thrice and cut once, as the proverb says,” concluded Visaginas Mayor.