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Japan’s Richest Man Challenges Nuclear Future via Japan Focus

Introduction by Andrew DeWit

Read this fascinating and timely piece by Bloomberg for a succinct, “you are here” perspective on Japan’s power politics. Bloomberg nicely captures the essence of what Softbank’s CEO Son Masayoshi is doing in Japan. We have heard for years from LDP regimes that Japan was head of the pack when it came to the industrialized states’ comparative environmental awareness, energy efficiency and expansion of renewable energy. Certainly it is true that many Japanese companies have highly efficient manufacturing processes and a strong presence in the production of geothermal, solar and other sustainable energy technologies. But we all learned in the wake of the Fukushima incident that Japan’s domestic energy market is dominated by the nuclear village people. Their schemes included reprocessing waste on top of fault lines and ramping up nuclear energy to secure no less than 60% of all of Japan’s energy needs by 2100. Fortunately, those plans are melting into air. Moreover, it has also become clear that Japan’s nuclear policy relied on massive state aid and collusion to defray the immense costs through public budgets and other means. As Softbank’s Son declares in his frequent public events, nuclear power is at least three time more expensive than the roughly YEN 6/kWh routinely asserted by its advocates and their cheerleaders. That financial cost (not to mention the essentially incalculable health and other risks) is the door that Son points to in describing his plan to open up new frontiers with increasingly cheap renewable power production.

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