Japanese Nucelar Power
Since last year's accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant the country's commercial nuclear power plants have been undergoing safety inspections. This posed a major question to many Japanese people: Have nuclear or not have nuclear. Japan on Friday said it planned to phase out nuclear power over three decades in an apparent bow to public pressure after last year's Fukushima disaster, the worst atomic accident in a generation. Tokyo's ambitious goal would see the nation work to cut its use of nuclear energy to zero by 2040, permanently shutting down a stable of reactors that once supplied resource-poor Japan with about one-third of its energy. This is a 30 year plan as opposed to many European nations that are trying to do in ten years.
Some serious nuclear and radiation accidents have occurred. Nuclear power plant accidents include the Chernobyl disaster (1986), Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster (2011), the Three Mile Island accident (1979), and SL-1 accident (1961).
There was a survey conducted in March 2012 among 3,000 Japanese voters showed 80 percent support the idea of ending nuclear power while 16 percent are opposed to it. But 53 percent would allow idled nuclear reactors to be restarted as far as electricity demand required as a realistic short-term approach, said the survey that was conducted by the Japan Association for Public Opinion Research comprising major Japanese newspapers and broadcasters. So there is a public pressure and desire to do something.
The current move would bring Japan into line with Italy, Switzerland and Germany, which have said they will wean themselves off nuclear power by 2022.
Ahead of a general election expected this autumn, nuclear energy has become a hot issue in Japan with protests that sometimes attract tens of thousands of people calling for it to be ditched.
The issuing of a policy goal is not binding on any future government, and a new administration could reverse the plan. What the European nations have found that an ambitious short time goal to phase out nuclear power is fraught with high economic costs that the consumer will have top pay. A longer term changeover allows the best use of what is already there while a gradual transition is made.
Tokyo's new energy policy calls for shutting down reactors that are more than 40 years old, not building any new nuclear reactors and only restarting existing reactors if they pass standards issued by a new regulatory agency.
Fukushima image via Wikipedia.