Japan’s post-Fukushima energy policy advisory board resumes discussions after purging members

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Japan Nuclear Energy

In September 2012, after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, Japan elected to support an energy policy which was designed to phase out nuclear power, after government polls in August had found nearly half of the citizens of Japan had favored a policy with zero nuclear power plants providing future energy supply.  After Prime Minister Abe was elected, he announced that Japan would revisit the future energy policy, and advocated the restart of Japan’s nuclear reactors which are currently shut down.

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party then formed an energy policy panel from a collection of members who had formerly advised the government to restart the reactors, as well as some members who had advised instead to maintain the current energy policies and promote more renewable energy development instead.  Last week, the panel cut the number of advisory board members from 25 to 15, and removed all researchers who had voted for phasing out nuclear power, while reappointing ten members who had promoted restarting the nuclear reactors.  The committee plans to compile revisions to the plan by the end of this year.

Among the members who were reappointed were; Akio Mimura, who formerly headed an energy advisory board which strongly promoted nuclear power, Issei Nishikawa, governor of Fukui Prefecture which hosts 14 nuclear reactors, and Hajimu Yamana, a nuclear engineering professor at Kyoto University who supports the development of fast-breeder reactors and was found to have received over 6.15 million yen in cash donations from the nuclear power industry.  The Asahi Shimbun reported that of the 6.15 million yen in donations to Yamana, 500,000 yen was provided by Kansai Genshiryoku Kondankai in February 2011 after he became a member of the government’s task force.

“Mr. Mimura may have a wonderful personality and good policy ideas, but it’s wrong to let the same man who led discussions on pre-Fukushima energy policy be in charge,” said Tetsunari Iida, the executive director of the Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies, who was dropped from the panel, told Bloomberg. In 2012, after Japan had confirmed the new energy policy, Mimura spoke at a September 18th meeting of the post-Fukushima policy group and argued that Japan should continue using nuclear power.

A February poll by the Asahi Shimbun found that 70 percent of voters supported an energy policy which would bring about an end to nuclear power in Japan, from among five choices of future policies with varied contributions from nuclear energy and renewable energy alternatives.

Source: Bloomberg

Source: Asahi Shimbun

Source: The Daily Yomiuri

Source: Asahi Shimbun

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