Japan Needs to Completely Phase Out Nuclear Power, Says Prime Minister
Photo: Flickr, CC
A Change of Heart
The words above are those of Naoto Kan, Japan's prime minister. He used to be in favor of nuclear power, as long as the proper safeguards were in place, but the neverending crisis at Fukushima Dai-ichi seems to have changed his mind. "As I've experienced the March 11 accident, I came to realize the risk of nuclear energy is too intense," Kan said. "It involves technology that cannot be controlled by our conventional concept of safety."
Photo: DigitalGlobe, CC
Not the Safest Corner of the World
As the recent earthquake and tsunami showed the world, a big problem with making nuclear power safe in Japan is that the country is located in a very seismically active region. A more modern plant with better safety measures might have done better than Fukushima - in fact, everything might have been fine - but it remains that if you're going to have nuclear power plants, it's probably best not to build them where earthquakes of magnitudes close to 9 on the Richter scale take place semi-regularly...
Kan's speech to journalists was more about the general direction of his government and less about specifics, though:
Kan denied he was proposing an immediate abandonment of nuclear energy policy. He did not give any details how Japan should phase out nuclear dependency while increasing the weight of alternative energy sources.
Kan gave no timetable for restarting 35 idle nuclear power reactors, including those shut down in the wake of the tsunami-triggered crisis and others undergoing regular inspections.
The government has ordered safety checks on all of Japan's 54 nuclear reactors after the disaster -- the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl. Only 19 reactors are currently operating, causing electricity shortages amid sweltering heat. (source)
Will Politicians Execute?
To know more about any potential bans on nuclear power or massive investments into renewables, we'll have to wait and see if Japan's government takes action, or if the very unstable political system there (at least in the past few years) will mean that Kan will soon be replaced by someone with a different idea of what should be done.
See also: Germany on Phasing Out Nuclear Power
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