Japan’s new pro-nuclear energy policy facing criticism

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Fukushima Dai-Ichi Nuclear Power Plant Media Tour

 

In Japan, how the government defines nuclear power has been an issue of contention since the March 11th nuclear disaster at Fukushima Daiichi.

While speaking at a Lower House subcommittee meeting on Wednesday, former Prime Minister Naoto Kan criticized the most recent draft of a general energy plan submitted by current Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal-Democrat government and accused the Abe administration of attempting to return the nation’s nuclear energy policy to a pre-March 2011 approach.

After the nuclear disaster in Japan, then-Prime Minister Kan announced that Japan would end reliance on nuclear power by 2040.  Now Kan says that while the new energy plan calls in places for reducing reliance on nuclear power, when read entirely it calls for the exact opposite.

The new energy plan draft, which was adopted on Tuesday, defines nuclear power as an “important base-load” energy source, but is also vague about the target percentage of power to be provided by nuclear energy.

The new energy plan will not only permit nuclear reactors in Japan to be restarted once they have been cleared by officials from the Nuclear Regulation Authority, but also leaves the door open to build new nuclear power plants.

The energy plan promotes the recycling of nuclear fuel, a fact which Kan says shows that the Japanese government has learned nothing from the Fukushima Daiichi disaster..

Some members of the Liberal Democratic Party were concerned that the plan did not reflect Japan’s aim to reduce its reliance on nuclear power to zero and eventually stop recycling nuclear fuel.

Some officials from the New Komeito party disagreed with the designation of nuclear power as a base-load energy source.  They were supported by other members who felt like the term was unfamiliar, would be potentially misleading to the public, and gave nuclear power too high of a status.

The government is continuing to work to have the energy plan approved by all members of the cabinet by the end of March.

Source: NHK

Source: New York Times

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