By Andrew DeWitt
After two years in which international attention focused on Fukushima as an emblem of disaster, Fukushima’s plans for immense floating wind farm projects have begun to attract international attention. This April 15 article “Fukushima Moves Forward With World’s Largest Wind Farm” reminds us that the prefecture’s projects are bold initiatives which could pioneer a new model of offshore and large-scale deployment. The article also lauds Fukushima’s aim of getting 40% of its power from renewables by 2020, and then fully 100% by 2040.
I argue in detail below that if one looks closely at Fukushima, as well as Japan’s subnational governments in general, one finds plenty of political will and concrete action. This comes as something of a surprise, to be frank, as the general narrative on Japan and its power holders has been that the dominance of the nuclear-favouring Abe regime means the decline of the pro-renewable and anti-nuclear movement spawned by Fukushima. The evidence suggests, however, that Japanese power policy and politics is becoming decentralized and distributed. An antipathetic, or merely incompetent, cabinet can surely slow down this shift away from centralized and nuclear power toward decentralized renewables. But as we shall see, the momentum and scale of the shift suggest that it may be unstoppable.