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Japan Political Pulse: Germany’s rock-hard commitment to nuclear phase-out via Mainichi

Germany’s nuclear power phase-out has reached a point of no return.

On a Japan National Press Club tour of Europe earlier this month, I had the opportunity to speak extensively with energy transition experts in Berlin. There, the head of the economics and environment department at left-leaning daily newspaper Die Tageszeitung asked me how Germany’s energy transition was being received in Japan.

I showed him copies of articles from monthly and weekly Japanese magazines declaring Germany’s nuclear phase-out a massive failure. He immediately asked me why the effort was being characterized as a mistake. The articles said that electricity prices would rise, preventing significant progress in the energy shift, I told him.

The argument was a boilerplate used by those opposed to energy transition, he asserted, explaining that Germany had, in fact, seen an increase in renewable energy that has helped bring electricity costs down for major corporations. Plus, home electricity costs constitute just a small portion of household expenditures, he said.

But the Japanese articles said the energy transition was a policy that benefitted the wealthy with the means to purchase renewable energy equipment, while placing a great burden on the poor, I continued.

He countered that energy transition was not to blame for poverty. To say so would be like saying that a public transportation system was faulty just because bus fares went up. According to him, there’s an understanding among those involved in the energy transition that no one’s ever done it before, but it has to be done. He explained that Germany is a wealthy country with excellent technology, and has a sense of duty to go a step ahead of other countries to change. We need to understand that the transition is based on this consensus before we bring up electricity prices, he said.

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