Japan approves energy plan reinstating nuclear power despite public concerns via South China Morning Post

Decision to switch mothballed nuclear power production back on likely to be unpopular as Tepco continues to wrestle with problems at the tsunami-crippled Fukushima plant


n the plan on Friday, Japan said it would aim go beyond renewable energy targets in past plans.

A footnote in Friday’s document mentioned that previous plans had set a target for renewable energy sources to contribute 13.5 per cent of total power generation in 2020 and around 20 per cent in 2030. Renewable energy sources, including hydropower, contributed around 10 per cent of the country’s energy as of 2012.

The decision to reinstate nuclear power is likely to be unpopular and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had to spend months convincing sceptical members of his ruling Liberal Democratic Party as well as coalition partner New Komeito, which opposes atomic energy, to accept the final draft of the plan.

The public has turned against nuclear power after watching Tokyo Electric Power Co’s (Tepco) struggle to deal with the disaster at its Fukushima Daiichi station following a massive earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

The crisis was the worst since the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 and all reactors in Japan have been shut for safety checks with no schedule for restarts.


Recent polls put opposition to nuclear restarts at about two-to-one over support. An Asahi newspaper poll last month found that nearly 80 per cent of those surveyed supported a gradual exit from atomic power.

The Democratic Party of Japan decided on an energy policy that set targets for renewable energy and pledged to phase out nuclear power but it was swept from power by the LDP in elections at the end of 2012.

Abe’s government has dropped plans to introduce a demonstration fast-breeder reactor in 2025 and a commercial reactor before 2050 after decades of scandals and delays at the Monju prototype reactor.

The energy plan unveiled on Friday said Monju would become an international research centre focused on reducing nuclear waste and toxicity.

But the plan says the government will continue working on reprocessing nuclear fuel at the Rokkasho facility in northern Japan and maintain storage facilities for used fuel.

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Related article: Three years after Fukushima, Japan forges ahead with nuclear energy via DW

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