November 5, 2012

Japan Resuming Nuclear Reactor Reliance

Two Japanese reactors currently under construction. 

Contrary to Japanese public and international expectations Japanese politicians, regulators and industry are returning to nuclear reliance and completing more reactors. As the article below indicates Japanese pro-nuclear business groups appear to more strongly influence Japanese leadership decisions than the Japanese public: , November 4, 2012. The article in part concludes:

"Why has Fukushima not been a game changing event? The institutions of Japan’s nuclear village (principally the utilities, bureaucracy and Diet) enjoy considerable advantages in terms of energy policymaking. They have enormous investments at stake and matching financial resources to sway recalcitrant lawmakers and the public. The nuclear village has openly lobbied the government and actively promoted its case in the media while also working the corridors of power and backrooms where energy policy is decided. (For a less pessimistic assessment, see Johnston 2012) Here the nuclear village enjoys tremendous advantages that explain why it has prevailed over public opinion concerning national energy policy. Its relatively successful damage control is an object lesson in power politics. To some extent the lessons of Fukushima are not being ignored as the utilities are belatedly enacting safety measures that should already have been in place, but a nuclear-free Japan by the 2030s increasingly seems unlikely.

Another reason why nuclear energy remains in play is because the renewable options that are being ramped up will not offset the loss of 29% of Japan’s electricity generating capacity for another two decades....

...Japan’s power network promoting nuclear energy is not planning to go out of business at home or overseas. Indeed, promotion of reactor exports by the Japanese government continues while in 2012 Toshiba increased its stake to 87% in Westinghouse, a major player in the global nuclear industry, along with Hitachi/ GE and Areva/Mitsubishi...."

Meanwhile Germany, untouched by Fukushima, plans to close its nuclear reactors by 2022. Yet, if safety is the issue, most power reactors in the countries around Germany will continue to represent a safety threat to Germany.

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