Japan considers nuclear restart

Japan News & Views - February 27th, 2014

With Japan’s energy landscape seemingly planned out, Japanese officials are making a sharp turnaround to revive nuclear power.

Nearly three years after the Fukushima nuclear crisis, Japan is looking to restart dozens of shuttered nuclear reactors in a new energy policy that cites atomic power as a key long-term electricity source.

The Basic Energy Plan will push to restart the country’s 48 reactors if they pass safety tests, and potentially even build new ones in the future.

Nuclear power accounted for 30% of Japan’s electricity prior to the Fukushima disaster.

The shift has been largely influenced by politics and economy in Japan, according to Time. The most notable factor was the change of leadership after the Fukushima meltdown. Former Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s Democratic Party of Japan was less connected to the country’s nuclear industry than his successor, Shinzo Abe.

Under Abe, a member of the pro-nuclear Liberal Democratic Party, nuclear energy is slowly becoming favorable in the face of a mounting energy bill from rising costs of oil and natural gas imports.

The draft plan, expected to be released in January, said that a mix of nuclear, renewable and fossil fuel will be the most reliable and stable source of electricity to meet Japan’s energy needs.

Japan’s minister for trade and industry, Toshimitsu Motegi, played down the nuclear reversal, saying Japan was still committed to “reducing its reliance on nuclear power.”

“In principle, the direction has not changed,” Motegi told reporters.

Kan criticized the move toward nuclear power. “This government has not learned the lessons of Fukushima,” he said in a telephone interview.

“Japan was on the brink, but now we want to go back to nuclear for economic reasons. But what happens to the economy if another disaster hits?”

By Maesie Bertumen

Main image: flickr/kumuaka