Japan plans to abandon nuclear power

Japan's prime minister has set plans into motion to eliminate the country's need for nuclear energy by the end of the 2030s.

Yuriko Nakao/Reuters/File
An anti-nuclear protester holds a sign reading, "Nuclear reactors are unnecessary," during a demonstration outside Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's official residence in Tokyo in this September 2012 file photo. Noda recently announced plans to phase out nuclear energy in Japan by the end of the 2030s, according to Consumer Energy Report.

Following a soul-searching inquiry into the best methods of producing electricity for its citizens over the next several decades, the leader of Japan’s ruling political party has officially announced that the country will set plans into motion that will see them eliminate the need for nuclear energy by the end of the 2030s. The move, sure to appease a public wary of nuclear energy given its history with the technology, comes just as the country’s ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) gets set to face elections, as early as next month.

The new energy policy will allow some or all of Japan’s 50 nuclear reactors, 48 of them currently shut down, to go back online during the 27-year transition period, as needed. (See also: Japan Can’t Afford Renewable Energy, Needs Nuclear)

The message from Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda will send Japan in the same direction as Germany in abandoning nuclear energy entirely, a power source that helped both countries to become world-leading economic powerhouses since the end of World War II.

With the Japanese public clamoring for renewable energy programs and the end of nuclear power following the severe earthquake and subsequent tsunami that stuck the nation in 2010, leading to flooded reactors and nuclear contamination, countries around the world have begun reexamining their atomic energy policies. With Germany in lockstep with Japan’s plans, countries like China and France are also considering heavier investments in alternative energy sources; other nations, including Great Britain, have committed to continuing their nuclear programs. (See also: Why Germany is Saying Good-Bye to Nuclear Power)

The reluctance of some nations to move away from atomic energy lies in the costs and challenges associated with investing in new energy sources, a sentiment shared by many critics in Japan.

“The plan is worth trying, but sooner or later it will be realized it isn’t possible,” said Hirofumi Kawachi, an energy analyst at Mizuho Investors Securities Co. “To eliminate nuclear power by the 2030s, (we) will need breakthroughs in renewable and energy-efficient technologies.”

How Japan’s new energy policies will unfold will depend heavily on the results of the nation’s upcoming federal election.

Source: Japan Says ‘No’ to Nuclear Power

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