The recent energy policy named the “Revolutionary Energy and Environment Strategy” by its authors which was adopted in Japan this week was founded upon three principles, no reactor should operate over the 40 year lifespan, no new reactors should be built, and that no reactor should be restarted without proper safety clearance from regulators.
An ambition or a policy?
The ink on the policy is still wet, and is already being undermined and will only continue to be changed. Until the root issues are resolved, every change will only continue to allow unpopular actions to continue. First this policy was to be realized within the 2030s, now reports claim by 2040, and include caveats that will continue to allow nuclear power plants to operate long past the new deadline. The government admitted that some exemptions could still be granted to extend the lifetime, and suggested that the 2040 deadline itself was still negotiable.
“Achieving zero-nuclear status is an ambition, not a commitment,” said a government official after a briefing. It is true, much can change over a 30 year period, and it may still turn out that Japanese officials will reverse their current course at any point. In fact, maybe they already have.
Even while announcing the new energy plan, Motohisa Furukawa, the minister of state for national policy, admitted that there was no intention to halt the government’s quest to restart shut-down nuclear reactors. The only reactors which are already more than 40 years old are the Mihama-1 (November 1970) reactor, the Mihama-2 reactor (July 1972), and the Tsuruga-1 reactor (March 1970).
Possibility that seven reactors at varying stages of construction could still be activated
On Saturday, Japanese officials confirmed that planned work will continue to be carried out to construct three new nuclear power reactors in Aomori and Shimane. If nuclear reactors which are now under construction are allowed to operate for more than 40 years, it may be feasible to forsee the operation of those reactors through the 2070s.
“The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will never change its construction permits of nuclear reactors,” Yukio Edano, the minister of economy, trade and industry, said said during a meeting with local officials in Aomori, northern Japan. “We don’t intend to withdraw the permission that has already been given by the ministry,” he added.
Where is the leadership in Japan?
In truth, the new policy does not have the fortitude or foresight required to realistically be perceived as a long-term energy plan, it is a “do nothing now” political plan to kick the can down the road.
The policy allows the continued operation of uranium enrichment and reprocessing, which has never lived up to the claims and expectation of industry experts despite the injection of tens of billions of dollars into development, and will only further increase Japan’s growing stock pile of plutonium and other nuclear waste.
Source: JiJi Press
Source: The Wall Street Journal
Source: Channel News Asia
Source: The New York Times