SIX years on from the triple reactor meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Japan’s government has taken the first steps on the long and contested road to restarting the country’s decommissioned nuclear reactors. Despite an atmosphere of tension and fierce debate surrounding the future of nuclear power generation in Japan, the first plants have now reopened in line with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s controversial new energy security vision. The prime minister’s vision – which was first announced in the Fourth Strategic Energy Plan of 2014 before being formally adopted by the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry the following year – placed nuclear power once again at the forefront of Japan’s quest to achieve energy security. The plan envisages nuclear power occupying a 20-22 percent share of Japan’s energy mix by 2030, while stipulating only a modest increase in renewable energy sources. Despite the government’s enthusiasm to reboot the nuclear industry, many in Japan have questioned the new strategy, labelling Abe’s plans unviable given the country’s traumatic recent experiences with nuclear power. And less than two years since the strategy was adopted, early evidence appears to back-up this assertion: nuclear restarts have been slow and costly, while public opposition remains strong, leaving the government’s 2030 target looking wildly optimistic.
Asian Correspondent 11th April 2017 read more »